In one of the previous articles, we have mentioned how a lot of the people, especially the younger ones, are still on the fence about broccoli even in spite of its obvious health benefits. Things couldn’t be more different when we take a look at the ice cream.
Yeah, we haven’t met a single person who doesn’t enjoy this dessert in one form or another. Whether you prefer the Italian gelato, some traditional recipe, or you like some vegan variety, we can all agree on one thing – the summer is simply not the same without ice cream.
But why would you enjoy this treat during only one season? Seriously, stockpiling your supplies into the freezer and taking them out whenever you feel a sugar itch feels like a sensible idea.
That brings us to the question – does ice cream go bad? This sweetened frozen food definitely looks freezer-friendly, but just how many months can you keep it edible when you put your package to deep freezing?
Well, let’s try to find out.
Why Should You Add Ice Cream To Your Diet?
Now, before we proceed to all the nuances of keeping your ice cream safe in the freezer, let us first tackle a couple of common misconceptions about this food. Of course, we were joking when we said that ice cream is universally loved. A lot of nutritionists will even tell you to stay away from it as far as possible.
But, is this bad rep in the healthy diet circles truly earned? We say not that much.
Although this treat, by its nature, contains a hefty amount of sugar, there are a lot of ice cream varieties that will allow you to maintain a healthy, sustainable diet. As long as you keep your intake low-calorie and low-fat, the proteins and carbohydrates you can find in the treat may even serve as great post-workout nourishment and promote the growth of your muscles.
Besides, no one ever damaged their throat with cold servings if it wasn’t already damaged. As a matter of fact, hot drinks are doing a much worse job here. In this scenario, frozen foods can even prove to be soothing (try to remember what the good doctor recommended when you removed the tonsils).
So, bottom line – the ice cream is not the problem as long as you consume it moderately and choose the recipe that suits your nutritional goals.
Now, let’s see what we can do to preserve this bad boy for many months to come.
What Is The Freezer Burn?
The reason we used many months to come instead of forever is that the ice cream can indeed go bad, even when you put it to a deep freeze. If not contained properly, your favorite summer dessert may pick up so-called “freeze burn” and spoil far sooner the due time.
This whole topic might seem a bit odd. After all – how can some product that has the word “ice” in its name be burnt by the ice. But, the things are as they are, and the first step in extending the ice cream’s life span is learning how to avoid this common problem.
So, what is the infamous ice burn?
Well, this issue occurs when the moisture from your ice cream manages to crawl its way from the cream and climbs to the surface. This is a process you can see everywhere in nature. The problem is that even when that moisture finds its way up to the surface of the ice cream, it will, eventually, succumb to low temperature and freeze.
This is something you should try to avoid at all costs. The moisture is what keeps the cream tasty during long periods of freezing. If it manages to escape to the surface, you will end up with the product that is still edible but devoid of any flavor.
Also, the texture will become incredibly mushy, and no one likes that.
Is there anything we can do to avoid this problem? Sure…
How To Prevent The Ice Cream Freezer Burn?
- The main thing you should know about freeze burns is that they occur as a result of the temperature difference of the items stored in your freezer and the surrounding temperature. Therefore the first step in keeping this menace at bay is to always keep your ice cream cold. When you remove the cream from the freezer, don’t allow it to thaw.
- If you need to, keep the package in the freezer between the servings. And while you are doing that, do your best to make it room in the coldest area of the fridge. Since we have already learned that the cold air sinks, that would be the lower shelves.
- The other thing that helps the freezer burn buildup is the air that lingers within the freezer. The best way to keep it out of the box is to resort to your good old friend, the aluminum foil, and cover the ice cream before closing the package.
- The third step – store the ice cream upside down. This may look awfully counterintuitive, but consider this – the ice cream that has already melted is the most susceptible to freezer burn. Is there any better way to set them apart from the cream that has not already melted than let gravity do the heavy lifting?
- Finally, we have to mention the rationing. The sooner you manage to empty your ice cream box, the better. Do your best to buy/prepare the packages that can be eaten in one round, so you don’t have to think about all the measures we listed above.
What Are Ice Cream Bacteria?
Unfortunately, the freeze burns are not the only thing poised to spoil your ice cream stocks. The other danger you should take into account is the bacteria more than happy to linger on any food that was not properly stored.
You see, ice cream is made from a bunch of supplies that are not entirely immune to this pest. Some would even say that milk and eggs are a real magnet to usual suspects to salmonella and Escherichia coli.
The silver lining in this story is that these bacteria do not exactly develop out of nowhere – they will thrive only under specific conditions.
One of the ways to contaminate the food is to allow external exposure. The other is to enable their expansion with a favorable temperature.
How To Prevent The Development Of Ice Cream Bacteria?
Keeping these two things in mind, the measures for keeping salmonella and E-coli out of your favorite treat should be clear enough.
But, let us put things into writing just in case.
- First of all, you should never touch the ice cream with your hands or smudgy utensils. You should use only the units that were cleaned immediately before the serving. Also, keep your kids away from the ice cream or the utensils until the food has been served on the table.
- Next thing you should do is to never allow the ice cream to melt. We already briefly mentioned this in the previous section, but it’s worth reiterating. The cream should always be kept at temperatures below 41° F (for instance, this temperature is used in most pastry shops and restaurants out there). If you allow the dessert to melt, it’s better to throw it away than put it back into the freezer.
- Last but not least, you should always buy/prepare the ice cream recipes that don’t feature pasteurized eggs and milk. These things pick up bacteria like crazy. If you want to preserve your ice cream in the long term, you should keep them out of the freezers.
How Long Can Ice Cream Last In The Freezer?
And now that we’ve found the answer to the question, does ice cream go bad and presented a couple of ways to postpone this unfortunate outcome let us see just how long you can save this fan-favorite dessert from spoiling?
It turns out – pretty long. Even by frozen food standards.
The unopened box of ice cream, if properly stored, can go all the way up to 2 to 3 months before going bad. Opened containers, of course, are not that endurable, but they can still bring you some joy after up to two months.
Of course, these numbers, to a great extent, depend on the recipe and the manufacturers’ guidelines. If you can find them on the box, you should use them as your number one guideline.
How To Know When The Ice Cream Has Gone Bad?
But, what about the homemade ice cream that doesn’t have the benefit of ‘best before date’ being written on their package? Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to determine whether your frozen dessert has earned a one-way ticket to the garbage bin or not.
One of the easiest ways to check if the ice cream you have pulled out of the freezer is bad is to see if the cream has picked up tiny ice shards across the surface. In that case, the container has been compromised, and it would be best to throw the ice cream away.
The other sign that you should stay away from the food is the volume. The bad ice cream tends to shrink as time goes by. If your box is half empty, ditch it. And then, there is the golden rule of everything foods – if it smells terrible, it’s definitely not edible.
So, these were a couple of important considerations you should have in mind before storing your favorite ice cream into the freezer. This dessert can last very long, but not forever. Try to remember that – it’s better to be safe than sorry.