It's the next best thing to churning on Grandma's back porch

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There is something about the cool, sweet, creaminess of ice cream that makes the intense summer heat just a bit more bearable. Whether you enjoy a bowl of ice cream at a ball game or like to stop by your local ice cream shop for a double scoop, everyone can agree that eating ice cream is a favorite summer pastime. Beyond the traditional flavors of chocolate, vanilla, lemon, strawberry, and peach, today's ice cream connoisseurs have fun adding unexpected flavors, such as avocado, basil, olive oil and sea salt, and, the newest trend, dill pickle (yep, it's a thing). If you would like to make some homemade ice cream but don't relish the hours of churning that the job requires, consider purchasing this Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Automatic Ice Cream Maker. This machine is not only the choice of the Test Kitchen Professionals at Southern Living, but it is my personal favorite as well.

This easy-to-use machine, which makes up to two quarts of ice cream in less than an hour, can also be used for other frozen treats, such as sorbet or yogurt. Making ice cream at home allows you to control the ingredients (quality of fruit and amount of sugar) and experiment with flavor variations (maple and bacon ice cream, anyone?). This particular model allows you to drop candy or bits of fruit from the top into the mixture while the ice cream is churning.

WATCH: You Have To Try This Super Southern Peach Ice Cream

When the summer evenings are especially oppressive and my family needs to cool down, I will use my ice cream maker to create thick and creamy big-batch fruit smoothies.

Limited storage space is always a problem in the kitchen. An ice cream maker may not be as essential to your culinary needs as your prized heavy-duty stand mixer but, when it comes in this convenient shape and size (8.25 x 8.00 x 11.25 inches), you feel compelled to make room for it in your pantry. Plus, there is a storage compartment for the base cord which means that it won't be dangling over a shelf or countertop.

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