About Soft Serve
Soft serve is just a low-fat ice cream sold at slightly higher temperatures than “hard” ice cream. This makes it seem more creamy.
Soft serve is made just like gelato, but the machine almost completely automatic, even kids can use it. As the ice cream is sold, more is made automatically.
Soft serve has many advantages. The soft serve ice cream machine is “plug and play.” Just plug it in and it is ready to go. It takes up little space and even a unskilled clerk can add mix and clean it.
A huge number of soft serve ice cream machines are sold every year, so price is very competitive. Parts can be made from steel or plastic. Steel parts are expensive because molds must be made to manufacture them. Plastic parts are much cheaper to make but break more quickly. If a soft serve machine is offered at a “bargain” price it is usually because most of the parts are plastic.
Soft serve ice cream machines have a few important options. The most important is the “cold hopper.” A dedicated compressor chills the hoppers to refrigerator temperature, so the mix does not go bad. This also reduces cleaning time from every night to 3-4 days.
Another option is the air injection pump, which forces air into the mix, reducing mix cost and stiffening the ice cream. Both of these options require separate compressors that add to cost.
Soft serve ice cream machines can be simple or fancy. The fancy ones are often are self-cleaning and add ribbons of color to the product. However, their price is higher, they have more parts to break and a highly trained tech must service them.
Quality vs cost: The cheapest bases use artificial flavours, which can be sold cheap and have a good mark up. But, bottom-end base may contain illegal additives that are dangerous to children. This has been a very stubborn problem. We make our own bases from scratch using NZ milk powder and protein. It is certainly not the cheapest but we are proud of it and we know it won’t make kids sick.