Ice cream makers have come a long way since the days of using rock salt and straining the muscles in your arm to create a small cup or two of ice cream. Today’s makers are automatic and you merely need to put in a few basic ingredients. In a nutshell, a homemade ice cream maker uses a refrigerated compartment and mixer blades to create ice cream from simple ingredients such as cream, sugar, milk, and flavors. Many of the latest ice cream machines are multifunctional and can make frozen beverages, sorbets, and frozen yogurt.Ice cream makers come in different types. Countertop machines often need to be frozen before use. The ingredients are added to the machine, and the mixer blades stir the mixture. After half an hour or so, the ice cream freezes. This type of ice cream maker is relatively inexpensive but can make only one batch at a time before being refrozen.A lesser-known type sits inside the freezer, and every few seconds mixer blades stir the mixture. When the ice cream eventually freezes, the blades stop rotating. This type of machine takes longer to freeze than others, which work by placing the mixing bowl in direct contact with cold to freeze.A tabletop ice cream maker has a built-in freezing system, which saves time and creates ice cream in less than half an hour. They are more expensive than the others, but for many the convenience is worth the price. They can be used immediately, and they can make larger quantities of ice cream since there is no wait time. The disadvantage is that many cannot be moved for a number of hours after using so the coolant isn’t moved.Ice cream recipes are simple and inexpensive. Here are two of our favorites from realsimple.comLemon SorbetIngredients:1 cup sugar2 teaspoons grated lemon zest2 cups fresh lemon juiceDirections:Use an ice cream maker.In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and chill over an ice bath until cool. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.Follow the manufacturer's instructions for freezing. Serve immediately or freeze in an airtight container.Chocolate Chip Ice CreamIngredients:2 cups heavy cream1 cup whole milk1/2 cup sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract4 ounces semisweet chocolate, choppedDirections:Use an ice-cream maker.In a large bowl, combine the cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla.Follow the manufacturer's instructions for freezing. Once the desired consistency has been reached, stir in the chocolate. Serve immediately or freeze in an airtight container.Do you have a homemade ice cream recipe you’d like to share? Tell us below!