Hard ice cream refers to ice cream scooped from a dipping cabinet as opposed to soft-serve ice cream which would come from a soft-serve machine. Hard scoop ice cream will have more fat and air mixed in causing it to have the distinctive texture of a scoop of ice cream. Generally, Hard ice cream will be served with 80%-100% overrun, meaning if you put 2.5gallons of mix in your batch freezer you will produce 4.5 – 5 gallons of finished ice cream. Because of this the most gourmet shops will have about 16%-20% butterfat. That butterfat is required to hold on to the air molecules when freezing and keep its superb creamy texture.
Making hard ice cream is not as difficult as it might seem. Hard ice cream allows you to have much more creativity than soft serve. This is why artisan chefs seek out this equipment to allow them the flexibility of a truly unique menu. I have seen flavors like Mayan Chocolate (Cayenne pepper with cocoa powder), Jack Daniels, Guinness, pop rocks, Goat cheese and cherry, sriracha, Milk and Cereal, etc. The limit is only what you can imagine.
We have commercial hard ice cream makers available to help you get started, and there are many schools available for teaching you the proper way to make ice cream. We highly recommend attending a class to give you the tools needed to use the machine's capability to the fullest. Ice cream shops have found countless ways to distinguish themselves from the competition and as new trends come and go, we realize hard ice cream makers are just scratching the surface of what is possible.