Ice cream need no introduction, so let’s start on the right foot and go through the fundamentals!
Ice cream is a frozen dish made of a sweetened dairy combination that is churned while freezing. This action creates tiny ice crystals and disperses little air bubbles throughout the ice cream, giving it its distinctive light and fluffy creamy texture.
Ice cream, like other dairy products, is heavy in moisture and sugar, making it especially prone to spoiling. Ice cream has the extra obstacle of being frozen, giving it another another sensitivity to be aware of when it comes to storage, on top of the typical shelf life difficulties that come with any dairy food.
As a result, adequate food safety methods must be used while keeping ice cream. How long does ice cream last if everything is done correctly? Let us investigate!
- How Long is Ice Cream Good For?
- Issues With Ice Cream as it Ages
- How to Tell if Ice Cream is Bad
- How to Store Ice Cream
- How Long Does Ice Cream Last? Final Thoughts.
- How can you tell if ice cream has gone bad?
- How long does ice cream last in a freezer?
- How long does ice cream go bad?
- How long can ice cream stay out of freezer?
- Are ice crystals on ice cream bad?
- Can you eat freezer burned ice cream?
- How do you store ice cream long term?
- Why is my vanilla ice cream yellow in the freezer?
- Is it okay to eat out of date ice cream?
- Should you put ice cream in the freezer or fridge?
How Long is Ice Cream Good For?
The shelf life of ice cream varies depending on the kind, whether handmade or shop purchased, and the condition it is in, from unopened to opened.
In many circumstances, the ice cream will still be edible beyond the written expiration date, since, unlike other milk products, the date on ice cream is often a best by date rather than a hard and fast expiry date.
Unopened Ice Cream: 2-3 Months Past Printed Date
Unopened ice cream bought from a shop lasts the longest since it is factory sealed and has not yet been exposed to air. Moreover, the fact that it is still sealed indicates that it has not gone in and out of the freezer several times. Ice cream in this form has more time on the clock than opened ice cream since it has been held at a constant, frozen temperature the whole time.
Incorrect freezer conditions may cause brand new ice cream to spoil much like that which has already been opened, however sealed ice cream will normally survive 2-3 months beyond the stated date.
Opened Ice Cream: 1-2 Months After Opening
When you open that box of ice cream, you instantly expose it to air and temperature variations. Yet, unfortunately, it must be done if the excellent stuff is to be eaten!
No matter how far into the future the written date is, once opened, the shelf life of ice cream drastically decreases. Every time you take the carton out of the freezer and put it back in, the viability of your ice cream decreases, so be cautious of how often you go for it!
Ice cream should keep for around 1-2 months after opening if stored in a safe and stable region in your freezer.
Homemade Ice Cream: About 1-2 Weeks
Handmade ice cream has a substantially shorter shelf life than professionally manufactured ice cream because it lacks the stabilizers and preservatives that serve to extend the shelf life of shop purchased ice cream. The same is true for ice cream bought from a local store, since these establishments usually offer hand-packed, small-batch flavors.
Since the quality of homemade ice cream declines fast over time while food safety issues rise, it is advisable to consume your homemade ice cream within two weeks of creating it.
Ice Cream Cake: About 7-10 Days
Unfortunately, the special ice cream cake has the lowest shelf life of all. This is because most ice cream cakes include ingredients other than ice cream, such as whipped cream icing and chocolates, as well as fruit filling or cookie crumbs. Also, ice cream cake is more likely to be exposed to room temperature for extended periods of time for presentation and, of course, candle-blowing purposes!
Make an effort to consume leftover ice cream cake within 7-10 days after receiving it. Well, it’s a difficult job, but someone has to do it.
Issues With Ice Cream as it Ages
Ice cream changes as it ages, which are not only unpleasant to your taste senses but may also be harmful to your health. We categorized these concerns into two categories: those that impair the quality of ice cream and those that increase the risk of foodborne disease.
Loss of Quality
Ice cream gradually loses its natural taste over time. This is due in part to the fact that the flavoring chemicals in ice cream decay and become less noticeable with age. For example, the frozen fruit in a pint of strawberry flavored ice cream will become freezer burnt and less pleasant, while the specks of vanilla bean will lose their power if exposed to air.
Then there’s the fact that ice cream is particularly susceptible to odor absorption from other items in the freezer or from the freezer itself, which detracts from the taste of the ice cream. Ice cream has the best flavor while it is unopened, but once the seal is broken, the flavor clock begins ticking.
In addition to concerns with flavor degradation, ice cream undergoes texture changes that detract from the delightful experience you want in a dish of ice cream. The little ice crystals contained in the creamy liquid will begin to clump together and produce bigger crystals, changing the texture from smooth to frosty. Moreover, the vital air that is whipped into ice cream gradually exits over time, leaving the ice cream solid and hard rather than light and fluffy.
A widespread myth is that keeping food in the freezer implies it will last eternally. Although having such a permanent means to preserve food would be ideal, this is regrettably not the case!
Although subzero temperatures impede bacterial reproduction, the process is not completely stopped. As a result, germs continue to thrive in meals when they are frozen, but at a slower pace and with sometimes less obvious impacts. Ice cream, for example, is particularly vulnerable due to its high moisture and sugar content.
How to Tell if Ice Cream is Bad
There are various indicators to look for when assessing if your ice cream is just losing part of its quality or whether it is dangerous to ingest.
Note that expired ice cream is not always nasty ice cream! Ice cream may survive much beyond the date stamped if kept properly, so rather than depending on a printed date, inspect your ice cream for symptoms of degradation. On the other hand, since there are so many variables at work, ice cream may go bad before its expiry date, so remaining cautious is the best approach to avoid foodborne disease.
Although many people connect the phrase freezer burn with the look of pale, dry areas on frozen food, you may be surprised to learn that freezer burn is really a kind of dehydration that happens at freezing temperatures!
Frozen water may gently travel from inside a meal and evaporate into the surrounding air due to a phenomena called as sublimation. Consider it similar to evaporation, except that there is no liquid water involved, simply frozen water.
As a consequence, the food gets dried out, initially just on the surface that receives the greatest air exposure, but with time, the dryness may enter the mass of the meal as well. When it comes to ice cream, watch for a dried or discolored appearance, as well as a hard, sticky feel on the top that is difficult to push your spoon or ice cream scoop through.
The production of ice crystals is another clue that your ice cream is about to spoil. The development of these crystals is connected to freezer burn because as water leaves the meal, it often gathers on a surrounding surface, although these two phenomena may also occur independently of one another. Occasionally ice crystals form as a consequence of outside moisture being injected into the container, or moisture escaping during freezer burn is lost to the freezer’s ambient air.
Little ice crystals will commonly form on the bottom of the lid of aging ice cream, but they may also form on the top of the ice cream and even penetrate through the body of the ice cream, or on the exterior of the ice cream container itself.
Important: If you’re out shopping for ice cream and come across containers with crystallization on the exterior like this, don’t purchase them! The presence of ice on the exterior of the container indicates that the ice cream has been subjected to temperature fluctuations, which may render it unhealthy to consume or, at the very least, has altered the texture.
Gooey, Sticky Texture
All of this moisture loss and ice crystallization has a negative impact on the overall smoothness of the ice cream. With time, the ice cream’s texture will become gooey and sticky, with a slimy texture on the surface or along the edges of the carton.
This is due to the fact that ice cream is nothing more than a sticky, liquid foundation without air and ice crystals! Apart from the fact that ice cream in this form is very nasty and not worth eating, the possibilities of hazardous germs being present are exceedingly high.
How to Store Ice Cream
Ice cream has a long and healthy shelf life when kept correctly! Use these strategies to preserve your ice cream as tasty and safe to consume as long as possible.
- It probably goes without saying that you should make every effort to keep your ice cream as cold as possible. Be sure to return the container to the freezer as soon as you finish using it. And when you go out to purchase ice cream, make it the last thing in your shopping cart and the first item you put away when you return home.
- Keep ice cream in the center of your freezer, not towards the front or on the door. Sections towards the front of the freezer are prone to temperature swings when the freezer is opened and closed, which may cause your ice cream to spoil sooner.
- Don’t eat directly from the container unless you want to complete the whole carton, or what’s left of it! This increases the possibility of bacterial contamination.
- Put plastic wrap over the top layer of the ice cream, between the ice cream’s surface and the lid. This will aid in avoiding freezer burn and ice crystallization. Instead, you may cover the whole container in a freezer bag and seal it to reduce air exposure.
- Once you’ve eaten part of the ice cream, you may transfer the leftover ice cream from the original container to a smaller tupperware container or other airtight container. The less air in the container containing the ice cream, the longer it will last.
- An open package of baking soda in the refrigerator or freezer is an ancient and effective technique! The exposed baking soda absorbs any scents inside the freezer, allowing your ice cream (and anything else!) to taste good for the duration of its life.
How Long Does Ice Cream Last? Final Thoughts.
Ice cream may be stored for up to 2-3 months beyond the best-by date on the label. This only applies to unopened store-bought ice cream. Once opened, your ice cream will immediately begin to deteriorate and should be destroyed within 1-2 months. Handmade ice cream and ice cream cake are in completely different leagues, and both of these varieties of ice cream have a shelf life of just a few weeks at most.
Keep a watch out for indications of aging in your ice cream, such as ice crystallization and freezer burn, and if you open the container to discover it has become a gooey and frozen mess, throw it out right away! No ice cream, no matter how delicious, is worth suffering through unpleasant tastes and textures or risking disease for.
How can you tell if ice cream has gone bad?
Just looking at it, you can tell whether ice cream has gone rotten. Little ice shards on top of the ice cream and beneath the lid are an usual symptom. You can remove the ice crystals and still consume the ice cream in the early stages, but as it continues, the ice cream may become a gooey and frosty mess that you do not want to eat.
How long does ice cream last in a freezer?
Unopened vs. Opened
When refrigerated at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, ice cream will keep for approximately six weeks. Unopened ice cream will keep in a zero-degree Fahrenheit freezer for two to three months.
How long does ice cream go bad?
Unopened commercial ice cream placed in the coldest region of your workplace freezer may survive two to four months, according to most ice cream experts (homemade ice cream made without preservatives lasts about one month).
How long can ice cream stay out of freezer?
If you leave ice cream out at a temperature above 40 degrees for more than two hours, it should be discarded. There are no hard and fast rules about how long ice cream may be stored in the freezer before or after it is opened.
Are ice crystals on ice cream bad?
A thin coating of ice crystals on ice cream or other meals is typical and will most likely have no effect on the taste. A heavy covering of ice or large ice crystals indicate that the meal will not taste fresh.
Can you eat freezer burned ice cream?
Can I eat burnt ice cream from the freezer? Freezer burnt ice cream is perfectly safe to consume. Since freezer burn primarily affects the flavor and texture of a meal, there are no food safety concerns with freezer burnt ice cream.
How do you store ice cream long term?
In the House
Allowing ice cream to melt and refreeze frequently is not recommended.
Your freezer temperature should be set between -5°F and 0°F.
Keep ice cream in the freezer’s main compartment.
To prevent the production of ice crystals, keep the ice cream container lid securely closed while keeping it in the freezer.
More to come…
Why is my vanilla ice cream yellow in the freezer?
Have you ever purchased anything with vanilla ice cream in it (such as an ice cream sandwich) and discovered that the edges are yellow? This is because the ice cream was not maintained at the right temperature at one time.
Is it okay to eat out of date ice cream?
Recall that, unlike many other dairy products, ice cream typically has a best before date rather than a use by or sell by date. Because of this difference, you may safely consume it even after the best before date has passed.
Should you put ice cream in the freezer or fridge?
The recommended serving temperature for ice cream is between 6°F and 10°F. Keep ice cream in the freezer’s main compartment. Do not keep ice cream in the freezer door, where the temperature might fluctuate more since the door is opened and closed often.