When I started making ice creams and sorbets at home, my boyfriend (now my husband) got all set to serve them by putting the ice-cream scooper in a pan of hot water. 'What are you doing?' I asked. 'Making it easier to scoop the ice cream,' was his reply. I was insulted and informed him that my ice creams and sorbets are perfectly textured and can be spooned up straight from the freezer.
Home-made ice creams and sorbets have advantages over commercial frozen desserts other than (usually) tasting better and the fact that they are made without preservatives and additives. They can - if made right - have a much better, lighter texture, instead of being dense and hard. With both ice cream and sorbet, a little alcohol added to the mix goes a long way. Alcohol doesn't freeze, so adding a small amount of brandy, rum, Grand Marnier or any flavour that complements the main ingredients will make it softer. It may seem too soft when it's still being churned in the machine, but once it's packed into a container and put in the freezer, it will firm up. With sorbets, a tiny amount of egg white (in addition to the alcohol) will improve the texture.
Commercial ice cream is made in one facility then frozen before being transported - usually in a freezer truck - to a shop. At the shop, it's stored in freezers which are frequently opened and closed.
Once it's purchased, the ice cream is carried - usually at room temperature - to the customer's home, where it's once again put in a freezer. All this freezing, warming (if only slightly) and re-freezing takes its toll on the ice cream, which is usually indicated by ice crystals on the surface, and which can sometimes also affect the texture, making it grainy. Because most home-made ice cream is eaten at home, it's subjected to considerably less temperature variation than the commercial variety. It should be made in small batches, though, because it's at its tastiest when fresh.