26 MINUTE READ
The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino, available from amazon*, is an Italian-made domestic ice cream machine with an in-built freezing system. After 7 months of extensive use, which has included using this machine to make ice cream to sell at 5 food markets, I’ve found that it produces excellent ice cream that is extremely smooth, dense, and creamy. It has an optimum capacity of 700 ml (0.74 quart) of mix, producing about 900 ml (0.95 quart) of ice cream with about 29% air in an average time of 17 minutes and 30 seconds. My only complaint is the gap between the central pin and the surrounding plastic, which can let in ice cream mix during extraction and cleaning if you’re not careful.
You can view the top selling ice cream machines on amazon by clicking here*.
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Table of Contents
- 1. My Review Method
- 2. Ice Crystals in Ice Cream
- 3. Factors Affecting Nucleation, Growth, and Recrystallisation
- 3.1 The Scraper Blades
- 3.2 Air In Ice Cream
- 3.3 The Freezer Barrel Wall Temperature
- 3.4 Draw Temperature
- 3.5 Residence Time
- 4. Does the Lello 4080 Make Good Ice Cream?
- 5. General Questions
- 6. My only complaint
- 7. Summary
- 8. What The * Means
- 9. References
1. 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; it will take 26 minutes to read. 🙂
2. 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 (Donhowe & Hartel, 1996; Hagiwara & Hartel, 1996; Hartel, 1996; Koxholt et al., 2000; Marshall et al, 2003; Sofjan & Hartel, 2004). 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-surface 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 (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).
2.2 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… of crystals” (Fennema, 1973) and basically involves small crystals disappearing, large crystals growing, and crystals fusing together. 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.
3. Factors Affecting Nucleation, Growth, and Recrystallisation
3.1 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.
Keeping the scraper blades sharp and close to the barrel wall helps promote a high rate of heat transfer by scraping off any ice that forms at the barrel wall (Goff & Hartel, 2013). 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 (3 mm). When the gap is 1mm, the ice layer is not strong enough and is periodically removed from the wall.
Does the Lello 4080 leave a gap between the scraper blades and the barrel wall?
The Lello 4080 Musso Lussino comes with a heavy stainless steel dasher that has 2 protruding stainless steel arms, one longer than the other. Only the long, curved arm scrapes the ice that forms at the barrel wall. I’ve found that when fitted onto the central pin inside the barrel, the long arm leaves a gap of 1mm at its closest point to the wall, where it starts to curve upwards, increasing to 2 mm just over half of the way up the arm where it curves slightly away from the wall. Both arms sit very closely to the bowl floor, leaving a gap of only 1mm. This results in a 1-2 mm layer of ice freezing to the barrel wall and floor during dynamic freezing, which isn’t thick enough to lower the rate of heat transfer.
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?
Goff & Hartel (2013) note that standard ice cream has between 100 and 120% air (yes, 120% air!), premium between 60 and 90%, and superpremium 25 to 50%. The dasher in the 4080 rotates at a relatively low 84 revolutions per minute (rpm), compared to typical speeds of 100-200 rpm in commercial machines, producing ‘superpremium’ ice cream with about 29% air. This relatively low air content produces nice, dense ice cream that I personally prefer to the lighter, airier ice cream produced by my commercial Emery Thompson CB-200, which incorporates around 60% 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 Lello 4080 incorporates about 29% air into the mix, well within the typical 20-40% range for gelato, as long as you use a good gelato recipe, it will happily produce gelato. I haven’t yet tried making gelato in this machine myself as I am yet to develop a gelato recipe.
3.3 The Freezer Barrel Wall Temperature
Decreasing the temperature at the freezer barrel wall causes higher ice crystal nucleation rates and reduces recrystallisation in the centre of the barrel, which helps ice crystals remain small. (Drewett & Hartel, 2007; Russell et al.,1999). 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 the ice cream mix was frozen on the cold stage varied from -7°C, -10°C, -15°C, and -20°C (19°F, 14°F, 5°F, and -4°F). The researchers found that warmer freezing temperatures gave more elongated and slightly larger crystals with a wider size distribution.
To promote the formation of smaller ice crystals, the temperature of the refrigerant should fall within the range of -23°C to -29°C (-10°F to -20°F) (Goff & Hartel, 2013), with the freezer barrel wall temperature estimated to be a few degrees warmer.
How cold does the barrel get?
The R134A refrigerant in the 4080 is able to get the barrel wall temperature down to around -26°C (-22°F), and the barrel floor to between -11.6°C (11.12°F) and -14.2°C (6.44°F). The warmer temperatures at the barrel floor suggest that the tubing that carries the cold refrigerant is wrapped around the barrel wall, but not the floor. I think the guys at Musso have missed the mark here because had they been able to get the barrel floor, which has a larger surface area and thus contacts more of the mix during dynamic freezing, down to the same low temperature as the wall, the 4080 would be able to promote higher ice crystal nucleation rates and reduce recrystallisation in the centre of the barrel.
Nope. The Lello 4080 has a 1.4 litre (1.5 quart) non-removable stainless steel barrel, which I haven’t found difficult to use or clean.
How much ice cream does the Lello 4080 make?
The instruction manual states that the maximum capacity is 750 ml (0.79 quart) of ice cream mix. 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 ice cream with about 20% air in 37 minutes. Freezing more than 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of mix causes the barrel to overflow as the ice cream freezes.
Although it’s capable of freezing 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of mix, I’ve found the optimum quantity to be 700 ml (0.85 quart), which at 17 minutes and 30 seconds has a much shorter freezing time. As we’ll see in part 2.5 below, shorter freezing times promote the formation of smaller ice crystals and, consequently, smoother texture.
3.4 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. Decreasing the draw temperature results in more water being frozen and increased ice crystal content (Caillet et al., 2003). 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.
Low Temperature Extrusion
Bolliger (1996) and Windhab et al. (2001) investigated the influence of Low Temperature Extrusion (LTE) freezing of ice cream, where ice cream exiting the SSF at -5°C to -6°C (23°F to 21.2°F) is frozen further to about -13°C to -15°C (8.6°F to 5°F) in an extruder with slowly rotating screws, on the ice crystal size in comparison to conventional draw temperatures. It was shown that the mean ice crystal size was reduced by a factor of 2 by means of the LTE process compared to conventional freezing. Sensorial properties like consistency, melting behaviour, coldness, and scoopability also showed clearly improved values (Windhab, 2001).
Besides the ice crystal size, the size and distribution of air cells and fat globules are of primary importance, especially on the sensorial aspect of creaminess. To obtain creamier ice cream, it’s important to generate ice crystals, air cells, and fat globule aggregates as small as possible (Wildmoser et al., 2004). LTE helps to prevent air bubbles from coming together, thereby retaining the smallest size distribution (Eisner et al., 2005). Air Bubbles in the 10-15 μm range have been reported in LTE frozen ice cream, compared to conventionally frozen ice cream samples with bubbles in the 40-70 μm range (Bolliger et al., 2000b).
LTE also helps to reduce the size of agglomerated fat globules compared to conventionally frozen ice cream (Windhab & Bolliger, 1998a, b). Furthermore, LTE generally promotes enhanced fat destabilisation, which is partially responsible for slow melting and good shape retention (Bolliger et al., 2000b). The percentage of the fat droplets destabilisation in the LTE treated ice cream can be twice that achieved during the conventional freezing process (Soukoulis & Fisk, 2016). Because of smaller air bubble and fat globule aggregates sizes, as well as a higher degree of foam stability (fat globule destabilisation), LTE ice cream is evaluated creamier than conventionally produced ice cream (Wildmoser et al., 2004).
How do you know when the ice cream is done?
In line with the beneficial effects of LTE freezing on ice cream texture reported above, I’ve found that ice cream extracted from the 4080 at draw temperatures of -10°C (14°F) or lower is perceived smoother and creamier than that extracted at conventional draw temperatures of around -6°C (21.2°F). To measure draw temperature, I use a cheap infra-red thermometer*.
During extraction, it’s important to balance trying to minimise wastage with minimising the extraction time. The longer it takes to extract ice cream from the barrel and get it into a freezer for static hardening, the longer it spends at relatively warm room temperatures where recrystallisation and growth occur very rapidly. The greater the extent of recrystallisation and growth, the larger the ice crystals are likely to be. It’s a good idea to switch off the compressor before extracting your ice cream. Leaving the compressor running during extraction will freeze a thick layer of ice cream to the barrel, which is near impossible to remove.
3.5 Residence Time
Residence time, 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).
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 average of 17 minutes and 30 seconds to freeze 700 ml (0.74 quart) of ice cream mix to an optimum draw temperature of -10°C (14°F). Residence time increases to 26 minutes and 45 seconds for 800 ml (0.85 quart) of ice cream mix, and 37 minutes for 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of ice cream mix, both being frozen to a draw temperature of -10°C (14°F). Because a shorter residence time promotes the formation of smaller ice crystals and, consequently, smoother texture, I’d recommend freezing an optimum 700 ml (0.74 quart) of ice cream mix at a time.
Switch the compressor on and leave it running for 15-20 minutes before you add your mix. This will ensure that the barrel is as cold as possible when the mix is added, which will promote higher rates of nucleation, reduce recrystallisation, and reduce the residence time. I’ve found that the residence time increases by 1 minute and 45 seconds when I don’t pre-freeze the barrel for 20 minutes before adding my mix.
4. Does the Lello 4080 Make Good Ice Cream?
Yes I’ve found that the 4080 consistently makes extremely smooth, dense, and creamy ice cream that is comparable to ‘superpremium’ ice cream or artisan gelato. Because of the low 29% air content, it produces denser, or ‘fudgier’ as one of the carpenters in my shared workspace described it, ice cream that I personally prefer to the lighter, airier, ice cream produced by my commercial Emery Thompson CB-200, which incorporates around 60% air. I haven’t tried the recipes in the instruction manual and so can’t comment on those, but I get consistently dense, smooth, and creamy results with my own recipe, an example of which you can see in my vanilla ice cream recipe.
How does it compare to the Cuisinart ICE-100?
In a taste test to compare the texture of ice cream produced by the 4080 to that produced by the Cuisinart ICE-100*, I, along with three other tasters, found it difficult to find any noticeable difference between the two when a high butterfat recipe (23% butterfat) was frozen; both made ice cream that was extremely smooth and creamy. The only noticeable difference was that the 4080 produced ice cream that was perceived to be slightly lighter than the denser ice cream produced by the ICE-100.
When I lowered the butterfat content in my mix to 18%, however, I found that the 4080 produced ice cream that was substantially smoother and creamier than that produced by the ICE-100, albeit not as smooth and creamy as the 23% butterfat recipe. The ICE-100 produced noticeably coarse ice cream with large icey chunks that were detectable in the mouth. Butterfat masks large ice crystals, which is why they are not detected in the mouth in a high butterfat mix, but then become pronounced once the butterfat content is reduced. These findings show that the 4080 produces ice cream with smaller ice crystals and, consequently, smoother texture, which is more pronounced in recipes with a lower butterfat content.
5. 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 barrel 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). I’ve found it easy to move from the bottom shelf of my stainless steel table, where it’s stored, onto the table top for use. Here in the U.K, it runs on 230v 50Hz and draws 200 watts. In the U.S it’s 110/120v 60Hz.
Is it Noisy?
I’ve found it very quiet during freezing and haven’t had any problems sitting in the same room with it on. It produces 73 dB of noise during freezing, measured from about 15cm (5.9″) from the front of the machine, rising to 82 dB, measured from about 15cm (5.9″) from behind. 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 barrel and housing are very easy to clean. I’ve read several reviews on amazon where users have complained that cleaning the built-in barrel is tricky, but I haven’t found this a problem. Cleaning takes me no more than 5 minutes. I usually pour a bit of boiling water into the barrel and then use a sponge to soak it up. I then clean using warm soapy water and a sponge, followed by some paper towels to dry.
How reliable is it?
After 7 months of fairly heavy use, 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 R134A coolant needs to be recharged.
Can it be used to start a business?
This is a good question. In my experience, yes it can be used to start and run a business, but production is limited. I’ve found that, realistically, I’m able to freeze about 9 batches of ice cream per day, producing a total of about 8,400 ml (8.9 quart) of frozen ice cream. This takes around 6 hours of near continuous use, with a short 5 minute break every 3 batches or so to clean the barrel for a new flavour. I also switch the compressor off for about a minute between each batch for extraction.
After 7 months of fairly heavy use, I’ve found that the 4080 doesn’t overheat during 6 hours of near continuous use, and it still freezes ice cream in the same amount of time as it did when I first got it. I have found, however, that when freezing batches one-after-another, each batch does take slightly longer to freeze. This is to some extent because some of the frozen ice cream remains in the barrel after extraction, which increases the weight of the subsequent batch and, consequently, the freezing time.
What is the Warranty?
The 4080 has a 1-year manufacturers’ warranty, which I thankfully haven’t yet had to use. After 7 months of what I’d consider fairly heavy use for my business, it’s still freezing ice cream in the same amount of time as it did when I first got it. The 1-year warranty isn’t the most impressive I’ve seen for a domestic machine though; my Cuisinart ICE-100 has a 5-year warranty.
An issue that’s been raised by a user of the 4080’s bigger sister the Lello Musso Pola 5030*, which you can read here, is ice cream mix getting in the gap between the central pin inside the barrel 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 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 here.
The instruction manual states ‘not to get the central pin wet’, which I’ve found near impossible during extraction 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 barrel. 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 helps to keep 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.
Leave the dasher and bolt fixed in place during extraction. These act as a protective layer to help minimise the likelihood that ice cream will fall into the gap between the central pin and surrounding plastic.
In the 7 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 that is comparable in texture to ‘superpremium’ ice cream or artisan gelato. It has a maximum capacity of 1000 ml (1.06 quart) of ice cream mix, producing about 1200 ml (1.27 quart) of ice cream with about 20% air in 37 minutes, although I’d recommend freezing 700 ml (0.74 quart) of mix at a time because of the shorter 17 minutes and 30 seconds freezing time, which promotes the formation of smaller ice crystals and, consequently, smoother texture. I haven’t had any reliability issues and frequently have it in near continuous use for around 6 hours to produce ice cream for food markets. It’s quiet, easy to move, and easy to clean. In a test taste, I found that it produced ice cream with smaller ice crystals and smoother texture than that produced by the Cuisinart ICE-100*.
My only complaint is the narrow gap between the central pin inside the barrel and the surrounding plastic, which can allow in ice cream mix during extraction and 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.
8. 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 joy or value in my work and would like to support the cost of maintaining 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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