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Review: Yonanas frozen treat maker

November 3, 2011 |  8:30 am

Yonanas turns frozen fruit into a close approximation of soft-serve ice cream.Eileen McHale says she likes ice cream enough to eat it for every meal. She’s far from alone, and she’s come up with an appliance that comes close to turning frozen fruit — just fruit — into a pretty good approximation of soft-serve ice cream.

Her appliance, called Yonanas (about $50), works best if at least one of those fruits is bananas. Hence, the name.

The proliferation of frozen yogurt shops illustrates the problem: People choose fat-free yogurt instead of ice cream and load it down with candy bars or cookies for toppings.

“Everyone says they want to eat healthier. They do not want to give up what they love,” McHale said.

“I love ice cream. It doesn’t love me back,” said McHale, adding that as a child, she never felt great after eating ice cream, not realizing she was sensitive to lactose. And then, there are the calories in ice cream.

So we gave Yonanas a whirl.

It’s definitely a one-task wonder, and consumers should make sure they have the inclination and the space for such a product. That said, the Yonanas machine is easy to use. It has one switch and a feeding tube for the fruit. Children could easily make Yonanas, though whoever washes the machine needs to handle its sharp blades.

One downside is the noise: It’s loud. Also, a fair amount of dessert had to be scraped from inside the machine. The desserts come out more ice cream-like than an extra-thick smoothie made in a blender and creamier than frozen fruit mixed in a food processor.

Including bananas is the best way to get a soft-serve consistency, but they’re not required. Strawberries and mango, for example, were delicious together.

You might have to play around to get the flavor you like. For some of us, the banana flavor seemed too strong for such recipes as chocolate mint. And you have to stir well after putting more than one kind of fruit through the machine.

Date-pecan (dates and bananas, with some ground pecans stirred into the bowl) was a hit. Tasters also like pumpkin (pumpkin, spices and banana, with ground walnuts added afterward). The fruit flavors we tried — bananas with various combinations of berries — all came out well. Other possibilities: peanut butter; chai spice and tiramisu (cinnamon, cocoa and espresso with bananas).

It helps to let the fruit thaw for five to seven minutes, so the machine doesn’t just shave it. And Yonanas desserts are best eaten right away. You can store them in the freezer, but they will harden and the fruit flavors can get muted.

Yonanas is sold on Amazon.com, through the Home Shopping Network and at such stores as Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.

-- Mary MacVean, mary.macvean@latimes.com


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Photo: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times