Ice cream comes in so many varieties.
It may be filled with fruit or laced with liquor, made from unpasteurised cream or plant-based ingredients, but one thing that we need to make sure of is that it remains a container full of deliciousness for as long as possible.
But how long is “as long as possible”?
How long can ice cream last in the freezer without losing its taste or texture or worse still become harmful to those who consume it?
Can ice cream go bad when stored in a freezer?
Like most products, ice cream has a “Best by date”, and if stored properly in the right kind of airtight container then it can last for several months.
But keeping ice cream beyond that day is not advisable.
It’s definitely guidance a commercial operation should follow, simply because it’s unlikely you’ll be serving up the best of your culinary efforts to your customers.
And there is the possibility that ice cream can go bad, especially if it melts and is then refrozen. At best, it will suffer freezer burn, and at the worst it could become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Freezer burn is characterised by ice crystals which have formed on the top of your ice cream or on the inside of the container lid. If this happens, it will have suffered in terms of texture, colour and maybe even taste.
If you are unsure whether your ice cream is fit to eat, you could give it a quick sniff. Like most products which have gone bad, the odour if a big giveaway. It could be that it has melted and then refrozen or it’s also possible that it was in a container that wasn’t sealed properly and had become contaminated by odours from other things in the freezer.
Top tip: One of the easiest ways to maintain the freshness and condition of your ice cream is to keep it as airtight as possible in the coldest part of the freezer. For this reason, a container created from plastic which can cope with low temperatures is essential.
How long can ice cream last when stored in a freezer?
The general consensus from culinary experts is that if you buy a commercial ice cream from the supermarket and it remains in the coldest part of the fridge, then it can last from two to four months.
For home-made artisan ice cream, which doesn’t have the preservatives found in branded ice cream, it should be consumed before one month.
What happens if you leave ice cream in a freezer for too long?
The longer ice cream remains in the freezer, the more likely it is to spoil or worse, become at risk from bacterial contamination.
Ice cream can develop freezer burn if it is allowed to melt and refreeze, but there’s a dark side to all those ice crystals which form on the surface. They may not just signify freezer burn but bacterial growth disguised as ice crystals.
Because most kinds of ice cream are made from protein rich ingredients like eggs and cream, both a notorious breeding ground for nasties.
But how can you tell whether ice cream is off or not?
First, there may be ice crystals forming on the outside of the container. This means that freezer burn has affected the whole tub, and it is potentially hazardous.
The formation of ice shards is always a giveaway, and even though you may want to scrape them off and dive into the ice cream beneath, resist the temptation. If it is a forgotten tub that has been there for months, the wisest thing to do is junk it.
As you can see, how long to freeze ice cream is key, not only to enjoying spoonsful of deliciousness at its optimum condition but also to ensuring that you and the people you serve it to remain healthy.
Part of this is using the correct airtight container specifically for this purpose.
Wondering which container is best for storing ice cream? Then look no further.
At Venturepak, you will find a range of containers perfect for all your ice cream storage needs.