25 MINUTE READ After nearly 3 months of extensive use, which has included using this machine to produce ice cream to sell at 2 food markets, I’ve found that the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino Ice Cream Maker, available from amazon*, produces incredible ice cream that is extremely smooth, dense, and creamy. It has a maximum capacity of 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of ice cream mix, producing about 1200 ml (1.27 quart) of extremely smooth and creamy ice cream with about 20% air in 37 minutes. It can make both ice cream and gelato, freeze batches back-to-back, and makes ice cream that is near identical to that made by its more expensive bigger sister the Lello Musso Pola 5030*. My only complaint is the gap between the central pin inside the bowl and the plastic that surrounds it, which can allow in ice cream mix during cleaning if you’re not careful.
You can view the top selling ice ice cream machines on amazon by clicking here*.
MY REVIEW METHOD
I’ve used a slightly unconventional method of review. Let me explain. The best ice creams in the world have a smooth and creamy texture. This texture, primarily associated with a high milk fat content, is also determined by the average size of the ice crystals: smooth and creamy ice cream requires the majority of ice crystals to be small. If many crystals are large, the ice cream will be perceived as being coarse or icy.
Because ice crystal size is a critical factor in the development of smooth texture, I’ve discussed the key principles that underpin ice crystal formation and growth, and how these principles are affected by the features of the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino. By having an understanding of these key principles, I hope that you’ll be in a better position to evaluate this machine. If you’re short on time, you can skip to the summary of this review. If you’d like a nice long read, then sit back, grab yourself a hot cup of cocoa, and the enjoy this comprehensive review. 🙂
Table of Contents
- 1. Ice Crystals in Ice Cream
- 2. Factors Affecting Nucleation, Growth, and Recrystallisation
- 2.1 The Scraper Blades
- 2.2 Air In Ice Cream
- 2.3 The Freezer Barrel Wall Temperature
- 2.4 Draw Temperature
- 2.5 Residence Time
- 3. Does the Lello 4080 Make Good Ice Cream?
- 4. General Questions
- 5. Summary
- 6. What The * Means
1. Ice Crystals in Ice Cream
Ice crystals range in size from about 1 to over 150 μm in diameter, with an average size of about 25 μm in commercial ice cream (Berger et al., 1972; Caldwell et al., 1992; Donhowe & Hartel, 1996; Hagiwara & Hartel, 1996; Hartel, 1996; Koxholt et al., 2000; Marshall et al, 2003; Sofjan & Hartel, 2004; Inoue et al., 2008; Kusumaatmaja, 2009). Small ice crystals, around 10 to 20 µm in size, give ice cream its smooth and creamy texture, whereas larger ice ice crystals, greater than 50 μm, impart a grainy texture (Marshall et al., 2003; Eisner et al, 2005; Drewett & Hartel, 2007). To produce ice cream with the smallest possible ice crystals, it’s important to develop an understanding of ice formation (known as crystallisation) during the freezing of ice cream.
Ice cream is frozen in two stages, the first being a dynamic process where the mix is frozen in a scraped-service freezer (SSF) (an ice cream machine) whilst being agitated by the rotating dasher, a mixing device with sharp scraper blades attached, to incorporate air, destabilise the fat, and form ice crystals. Upon exiting the SSF, the ice cream, at about -5°C to -6°C (23°F to 21.2°F) and with a consistency similar to soft-serve ice cream, undergoes static freezing where it is hardened in a freezer without agitation until the core reaches a specified temperature, usually -18°C (-0.4°F). Cook & Hartel (2010) argue that the dynamic freezing stage is arguably the most important step in creating ice cream because this is the only stage in which ice crystals are formed.
During dynamic freezing, the ice cream mix is added to the SSF at between 0°C and 4°C (32°F and 39.2°F). As the refrigerant absorbs the heat in the mix, a layer of water freezes to the cold barrel wall causing rapid nucleation, that is the birth of small ice crystals (Hartel, 2001). For smooth and creamy ice cream, it’s important to have a high rate of nucleation so as to form as many small ice crystals as possible (Hartel, 1996). The more ice crystals that are formed during dynamic freezing, the more will be preserved during static freezing, resulting in a smaller average crystal size and smoother texture (Cook & Hartel, 2010).
1.2. Growth and Recrystallisation
The crystals that form at the cold barrel wall are then scraped off by the rotating scraper blades and dispersed into the centre of the barrel, where warmer mix temperatures cause some crystals to melt and others to grow and undergo recrystallisation. Recrystallisation is defined as “any change in number, size, shape, orientation or perfection of crystals following completion of initial solidification” (Fennema, 1973). The greater the extent of growth and recrystallisation in the centre of the barrel, the larger the ice crystals will be. Russell et al. (1999) found that crystallisation during the freezing of ice cream is dominated by recrystallisation and growth and that these mechanisms appear to be more important than nucleation in determining the final crystal population.
2. Factors Affecting Nucleation, Growth, and Recrystallisation
2.1 The Scraper Blades
Nucleation is affected by the rate of heat transfer from the mix to the cold freezer barrel, with a high rate of heat transfer promoting a high rate of nucleation (Hartel, 1996; Goff & Hartel, 2013). Because heat travels more slowly through ice than stainless steel, ice build up on the freezer barrel wall acts as an insulator and lowers the rate of heat transfer. The rotating scraper blades help promote a high rate of heat transfer by scraping off any ice that builds up at the barrel wall.
Ben Lakhdar et al. (2005) found that a large gap between the scraper blades and the barrel wall slowed heat transfer. This was attributed to a permanent ice layer, which forms between the blades and the wall only when the gap is high enough (3mm). When the gap is 1mm, the ice layer is not strong enough and is periodically removed from the wall. Keeping the scraper blades sharp and close to the barrel wall is, therefore, important because it prevents ice build up, thereby promoting efficient heat transfer (Goff & Hartel, 2013).
Does the Lello 4080 leave a gap between the scraper blades and the bowl wall?
The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino* comes with a heavy stainless steel dasher with 2 stainless steel scraper blades attached, one longer than the other. I’ve found that when fitted onto the central pin inside the bowl, there’s a gap of about 2mm between the longest scraper blade and the bowl wall, resulting in minimal ice formation on the bowl wall during dynamic freezing. This isn’t the smallest gap I’ve seen on a domestic machine, the Cuisinart ICE-100 leaves a gap of only 1mm, but it isn’t bad either.
2.2 Air In Ice Cream
The amount of air incorporated into a mix during dynamic freezing, referred to as the overrun, affects the size of the ice crystals, with slightly larger ice crystals observed at a lower overrun (Arbuckle, 1977; Flores & Goff, 1999b). Flores and Goff (1999a) suggested that overrun below 50% does not influence ice crystal size, but the amount of air cells at 70% overrun is just enough to prevent collisions among ice crystals, which can result in an increase in crystal size. Sofjan & Hartel (2004) found that increasing the overrun in ice cream (from 80% to 100% or 120%) led to the formation of smaller ice crystals, although the effect was relatively small.
How much air does the Lello 4080 whip into ice cream?
The dasher rotates at 84 rpm, resulting in low overrun of between 14% and 29.5%, depending on the size and composition of the batch. Below are the results of my overrun tests:
600 ml (0.63 quart) of ice cream mix produces about 800 ml (0.85 quart) of ice cream with 29.5% air
700 ml (0.74 quart) of ice cream mix produces about 800 ml (0.85 quart) of ice cream with 14% air
800 ml (0.85 quart) of ice cream mix produces about 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of ice cream with 23% air
900 ml (0.95 quart) of ice cream mix produces about 1200 ml (1.27 quart) of ice cream with 30% air
1000 ml (1.06 quart) of ice cream mix produces about 1200 ml (1.27 quart) of ice cream with 20% air.
Does the Lello 4080 make gelato?
Yes, the Lello 4080 does make gelato. All domestic ice cream machines are capable of making gelato. Let me explain. Italian-style ice cream is referred to as gelato, the Italian word for ice cream. There are, however, significant differences between traditional gelato and regular ice cream: gelato is typically lower in milk fat (4-8% in gelato, 10-18% in ice cream), total solids (36-43% in gelato, 36->40% in ice cream), and air (20-40% in gelato, 25-120% in ice cream) but higher in sugar (up to 25% in gelato, 14-22% in ice cream) (Goff & Hartel, 2013). Gelato also tends to be softer, more pliable and stickier than ice cream, and is served at warmer temperatures.
Because the dasher in the Lello 4080 rotates at relatively low 84 rpm, compared to typical speeds of 100-200 rpm in commercial machines, it whips between 14 and 30% air into the mix, well within the typical 20-40% range for gelato. So as long as you use a gelato recipe, the Lello 4080 will happily produce gelato with a low air content.
2.3 The Freezer Barrel Wall Temperature
The temperature at the freezer barrel wall, the bowl wall in the case of the Lello 4080, has also been found to affect the rate of nucleation and recrystallisation. Drewett & Hartel (2007) found that decreasing the coolant temperature at the freezer barrel wall caused higher ice crystal nucleation rates and reduced recrystallisation in the warmer bulk mix, which helped the ice crystals remain small. Similarly, Russell et al. (1999) found that as the freezer barrel temperature was lowered, the nucleation rate increased accordingly. Cook & Hartel (2011) simulated ice cream freezing in an ice cream machine by freezing ice cream mix in a thin layer on a microscope cold stage. The temperature at which ice cream mix was frozen on the cold stage varied from -7, -10, -15, and -20°C (19, 14, 5, and -4°F). They found that warmer freezing temperatures gave more elongated and slightly larger crystals with a wider size distribution.
To promote rapid nucleation and minimise recrystallisation, the temperature of the refrigerant, which is R134A in the Lello 4080, should fall within the range of -23 to -29°C (-10 to -20°F) (Goff & Hartel, 2013), with the freezer barrel wall temperature estimated to be a few degrees warmer.
How cold does the bowl get?
I’ve found that the Lello 4080 is able to get the bowl wall temperature down to an impressive -26°C (-22°F) when empty. This I achieve by leaving the compressor running for about 20 minutes before I add my mix, which I’ve found helps reduce the freezing time by 1 minute and 45 seconds. To compare this to an industrial machine, my Emery Thompson CB-200 batch freezer gets the freezer barrel wall temperature down to -32°C (25.6°C) when empty.
Is the bowl removable?
Nope. The Lello 4080 has a 1.4 litre (1.5 quart) non-removable stainless steel bowl, which, in theory, should provide for better heat transfer as the space between the bowl and refrigerant is reduced. I haven’t found this non-removable bowl a problem or any more difficult to use or clean than a machine with a removable bowl.
How much ice cream does the Lello 4080 make?
The instruction manual states that the maximum ingredients capacity is 750 ml (0.79 quart) but I’ve found that it’s able to freeze a maximum of 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of mix, producing about 1200 ml (1.27 quart) of extremely smooth and creamy ice cream with about 20% air in 37 minutes. Above 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of mix, the bowl overflows as the ice cream freezes. It does, however, take substantially longer to freeze a 1000 ml (1.06 quart) batch than it does a smaller 700 ml (0.74 quart) batch, the latter taking 17 minutes and 30 seconds to freeze. As I’ll discuss in part 2.5 of this review, shorter freezing times produce smaller ice crystals and smoother texture. Because of this, I usually freeze 700 ml (0.74 quart) batches when I use my 4080 to prepare ice cream to sell.
Can I make 1 quart or less?
If 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of ice cream is too much for you, the Lello 4080 can indeed freeze smaller batches. To test the minimum quantity, I froze a 600 ml (0.63 quart) batch of ice cream, which took 19 minutes and 55 seconds to produce about 800 ml (0.85 quart) of extremely smooth and creamy ice cream with about 30% air. I also tested a 400ml (0.42 quart) batch and found that although it was able to produce smooth and creamy ice cream, very little air, less than 4%, was incorporated during freezing. This was because there wasn’t enough mix in the bowl for the rotating scraper blades to properly whip.
Can I use the Lello 4080 for commercial purposes?
In my experience yes the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino can be used for commercial purposes: I’ve now used this bad boy to produce ice cream to sell at 2 food markets and have been very happy with the results. For each market, I froze 8 batches of ice cream, 4 batches back-to-back of one flavour, a 10 minute break to clean the bowl and dasher, and then another 4 batches back-to-back of a different flavour. Each batch measured about 700 ml (0.85 quart) of mix and produced about 900 ml (0.95 quart) of extremely smooth and creamy ice cream with about 29% air.
I’ve also tested the Lello 4080 to see how it copes with 8 batches of ice cream, each measuring about 800 ml (0.85 quart), frozen back-to-back without a pause between flavours for cleaning. In this test, the 4080 was in near continuous use for 5 hours and 21 minutes, with the compressor and dasher off for just 1 minute and 20 seconds between each batch to remove the frozen ice cream; I found that leaving the compressor on during emptying froze a lot of ice cream to the bowl, making it difficult to remove. After freezing the first batch, I took a temperature reading of the right side of the metal grill, where warm air is expelled to cool the internal freezing system, which was 33°C (91.4°F). I repeated this about every 30 minutes during the 5 hours and 21 minutes the machine was on, recording temperatures between 33°C and 40°C (91.4°F and 104°F). The 4080 didn’t overheat, switch itself off, or cause my electricity circuit to trip during this test. What I did notice, however, was that each batch took progressively longer to freeze, which may have been due to leftover mix inside the bowl from a previous batch increasing the size of the subsequent batch. Despite the longer freezing times, all 8 batches had the same smooth and creamy texture.
Below are the freezing times for the 8 batches I tested:
Batch 1 – 20 minutes 40 seconds
Batch 2 – 25 minutes 40 seconds
Batch 3 – 26 minutes
Batch 4 – 27 minutes 30 seconds
Batch 5 – 29 minutes 50 seconds
Batch 6 – 26 minute 55 seconds
Batch 7 – 29 minutes 55 seconds
Batch 8 – 31 minutes 35 seconds
2.4 Draw Temperature
The draw temperature is the temperature at which ice cream is removed from the barrel once dynamic freezing is complete. In commercial machines, this is usually -5°C to -6°C (23°F to 21.2°F) (Goff & Hartel, 2013). Draw temperature significantly influences mean ice crystal size because it determines how much water is frozen during dynamic freezing and, consequently, how many ice crystals are formed. Caillet et al. (2003) found that decreasing the draw temperature resulted in more water being frozen and increased ice crystal content. The more ice crystals that are formed during dynamic freezing, the more will be preserved during static freezing, resulting in a smaller average crystal size and smoother texture (Cook & Hartel, 2010). Drewett & Hartel (2007) showed that ice crystals were larger at draw temperatures from -3°C to -6°C (26.6°F to 21.2°F). When the draw temperatures were colder than -6°C (21.2°F), the mean ice crystal size decreased.
How do you know when the ice cream is ready?
The easiest way to tell when your ice cream is ready is by using a cheap infra-red thermometer. For the mix I use, which you can see in my vanilla bean ice cream recipe, I’ve found the optimum draw temperature for the Lello 4080 to be -10°C (15°F). At this temperature, sufficient water is frozen, giving the ice cream a dry appearance and making it stick firmly to the dasher as it’s extracted. I’ve found that ice cream extracted at warmer temperatures, -8°C and -9°C (17.6 and 15.8°F), isn’t quite as smooth and creamy after it’s been hardened in the freezer.
The drive motor in the Lello 4080 gets a thumbs up from me because it’s able to produce sufficient torque to continue rotating the dasher as the mix hardens to -10°C (14°F). On some machines I’ve tried, the drive motor isn’t powerful enough to produce sufficient torque to rotate the dasher as the mix hardens. This means that the dasher stops rotating before sufficient water has frozen, resulting in slurry-like ice cream with coarse texture.
Residence, which refers to the length of time ice cream spends in the barrel and takes to reach its draw temperature, has a significant effect on the final ice crystal size distribution, with shorter residence times producing ice creams with smaller ice crystals due to a decline in recrystallisation (Russell et al., 1999; Koxholt et al., 2000; Goff & Hartel, 2013; Drewett & Hartel, 2007; Cook & Hartel, 2010). Longer residence times mean that ice cream spends more time in the bulk zone of the barrel where warmer temperatures cause rapid recrystallisation. Donhowe & Hartel (1996) measured a recrystallisation rate at -5°C (23°F) of 42 μm/day. At this rate, a size increase of around 8 μm would be expected over a 10 minute period. This matches almost exactly the increase in crystal size observed by Russell et al. (1999) at a slightly different temperature of -4°C (24.8°F). Clearly, the longer ice cream remains in the ice cream machine at temperatures where recrystallisation occurs very rapidly, the greater the extent of recrystallisation and the larger the ice crystals.
A high rate of heat transfer and colder barrel wall temperatures contribute significantly to shorter residence times. Lower barrel wall temperatures lower the bulk temperature of the ice cream faster, reducing residence time and improving the ice crystal size distribution (Russell et al., 1999; Drewett & Hartel, 2007). Investigating the effect of draw temperature, dasher speed, and residence time on ice crystal size, Drewett & Hartel (2007) concluded that residence time had the greatest impact on final crystal size distribution, followed by drawing temperature and dasher speed.
How long does it take to freeze a batch of ice cream?
I’ve found that it takes an impressive 17 minutes and 30 seconds to freeze a 700 ml (0.74 quart) batch of ice cream mix down to an optimum draw temperature of -10°C (14°F), producing about 900 ml (0.95 quart) of extremely smooth and creamy ice cream with about 29% air. This I achieved by leaving the compressor running for 20 minutes before I added the mix to get the bowl as cold as possible. The residence time increases to 30 minutes when 800 ml (0.85 quart) of ice cream mix is frozen, producing just under 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of extremely smooth and creamy ice cream with about 23% air. Because increased batch sizes result in increased residence times, I’d recommend freezing an optimum 700 ml (0.74 quart) of mix per batch.
3. Does the Lello 4080 Make Good Ice Cream?
Yes I’ve found that the Lello 4080 consistently makes extremely smooth, dense, and creamy ice cream. I’ll add here that what I got the most feedback on at the 2 food markets that I used this machine for was how smooth and creamy my ice cream was. I will just temper that by adding that texture is more dependant on the recipe than on the machine you use, and so don’t assume that a great machine with a poor recipe will get you smooth and creamy texture! In a taste test, I also found that the Lello 4080 produced ice cream that was slightly smoother and creamier than that produced by my Cuisinart ICE-100*.
I tested my Lello 4080 against its more expensive bigger sister the Lello Musso Pola 5030* a while ago now when I was considering which of the two to buy as a backup and testing machine. I found that the 4080 made ice cream that was near identical to that made by the 5030 and because I didn’t need the larger 1.9 litre (2 quart) capacity the latter affords, I decided to go with the cheaper 4080. The 5030 did have a much shorter residence time of 13 minutes for a 950 ml (1 quart) batch of ice cream, rising to 25 minutes for a 1400 ml (1.48 quart) batch.
4. General Questions
What are the dimensions, Weight, and Voltage?
The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino comes in an impressive and commercial-looking all stainless steel finish. The only bits of plastic on the exterior of the machine are the freezer bowl lid, the timer knob, and the dasher and condenser buttons. It measures 12 inches (30.5 cm) in length, 18 inches (45.7 cm) in width, and 11 inches (27.9 cm) in height, and weighs 40 pounds (18 kg). It’s quite easy to move; I store it on the bottom shelf of my stainless steel table and move it onto the table for use without any issues. Here in the U.K, it runs on 230v 50Hz and draws 200 watts. In the U.S it’s 110v 60Hz.
What is the Warranty?
The 4080 has a 1-year manufacturers’ warranty, which I thankfully haven’t yet had to use. This isn’t the most impressive warranty I’ve seen for a domestic machine; my Cuisinart ICE-100 has a 5-year warranty. I will post an update on this review if I do end up needing to use the warranty, or if I ever have to get the machine serviced out of warranty.
Is it Noisy?
I’ve found the Lello 4080 to be very quiet during freezing and haven’t had any problems sitting in the same room with it on. It produces 73 dB of noise from the front of the machine during freezing, rising to 82 dB from the back. I haven’t had any problems with the dasher squeaking as it rotates, or the drive mechanism making grinding noises.
Is it easy to clean?
Yes the stainless steel bowl and housing are extremely easy to clean. I’ve read several reviews on amazon where users have complained that cleaning the built-in bowl is tricky, but I haven’t found this to be a problem. Cleaning the bowl takes me no more than 5 minutes with a sponge and warm soapy water. I then dry with a few paper towels. Before I start cleaning, I usually wait 5 minutes or so for any ice cream left in the bowl to melt, which makes it easier to clean. If I get any diluted ice cream mix on top of the central pin during cleaning, I quickly wipe it off, spray the top of the pin and surrounding plastic with sanitiser, and dry with a paper towel.
How reliable is it?
After 3 months of extensive use, which has included using this bad by to prepare ice cream for 2 food markets, I haven’t had any reliability issues. I’ve read a review on amazon where the user has stated that she has had her Lello 4080 Musso Lussino Ice Cream Maker for 8 years without having to get it repaired. She does note, however, that ‘it is taking slightly longer to freeze than when it was brand new’, which makes me think that the R134 coolant needs to be recharged. I will aim to add a 6-month reliability update to this review after a few more months of use.
A Potential Issue
An issue that’s been raised by a user of the Lello Musso Pola 5030*, which you can read here, is ice cream mix getting in the gap between the central pin inside the bowl and the plastic that surrounds it. As this ice cream mix then hardens, it increases the friction between the rotating central pin and surrounding plastic, placing more stress on the drive system. The user noted that hardened ice cream between the central pin and the hard plastic on her Lello 5030 caused the drive gear to fail, although this was after 10+ years of use. Because the central pin design on the Lello 4080 is identical to that on the 5030, the central pin issue is also pertinent to the 4080.
The instruction manual states ‘not to get the central pin wet’, which I’ve found near impossible during emptying and cleaning. When I first got my 4080, I used to remove the bolt that screws onto the central pin to secure the dasher, along with the dasher itself, before emptying my frozen ice cream into a container. I quickly realised this wasn’t the best of ideas as ice cream would nearly always fall directly onto the sweet spot between the central pin and surrounding plastic as I scooped it out of the bowl. I’ve now found that leaving the bolt and dasher in place whilst I extract my ice cream is a much better approach as both act as a protective layer that keeps ice cream off the central pin.
Still, even with the bolt and dasher left in place, I’ve found that ice cream mix does occasionally get onto the central pin either by falling off the dasher as it’s removed, or by dripping off my sponge. When this happens, I quickly spray a little steriliser onto the pin and surrounding plastic and dry with a paper towel. I don’t think this issue is a show stopper but certainly something to be aware of.
In the 3 months that I’ve been using this machine, I’ve found that the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino* consistently produces extremely smooth, dense, and creamy ice cream. In a test taste, I found that it produced ice cream that was slightly smoother than that produced by the Cuisinart ICE-100* and near identical to that produced by its more expensive bigger sister the Lello Musso Pola 5030*. It has a maximum capacity of 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of ice cream mix, producing about 1200 ml (1.27 quart) of smooth and creamy ice cream with about 20% air in 37 minutes, although I’ve found the optimum capacity to be 700 ml (0.74 quart) of mix, producing about 800 ml (0.85 quart) of smooth and creamy ice cream with about 14% air in just 17 minutes and 30 seconds. It makes both ice cream and gelato, and can freeze batches of ice cream back-to-back , although each batch does take progressively longer to freeze.
My only complaint is the thin gap between the central pin inside the bowl and the plastic that surrounds it, which can allow in ice cream mix during cleaning. This mix can then solidify inside the gap, increasing the stress on the drive mechanism, which may cause it to fail over time. I don’t think this is a show stopper, but definitely something to be aware of during cleaning.
I hope this review helps. I’d be happy to answer any questions and would love some brutally honest feedback on this review so please do feel free to get in touch and say hi! Ruben 🙂
6. What The * Means
Transparency is key. On that note, I haven’t been paid to write this review, nor was I given this machine for free. I paid for this bad boy with my own money and have written this review in my own time. If you find my work helpful and would like to support the blog, this is how you can help. If there is a * after a link, it means that I will earn a payment if you go through it and make a purchase on amazon. This doesn’t increase the cost of what you purchase, nor do these links influence what I write.
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