There is always a temptation to refreeze ice cream once it has melted.
After all, it seems a waste to allow it to turn into a sticky mess. Why not just pop it back into the freezer, and hey presto?! Let it go hard again.
What harm could it do? You might ask.
There are certainly reasons why, if you are a business, you could want to refreeze ice cream that has melted. Cost is one, and maybe also the time and effort that has been taken by the chef to create a perfect icy confection.
But you also may not even be aware that your ice cream has melted and refrozen again.
That is why it is useful to find out how to tell if ice cream has melted and refrozen.
Your ice cream may have melted for a number of reasons.
Perhaps there has been a power outage and your freezer stopped working for a while and you really didn’t realise that had happened.
Or maybe someone in your kitchen has accidentally left ice cream out of the freezer, only to discover that it is now turned to the consistency of cold custard then returned it to the freezer hoping that nobody will notice.
Such subterfuge can occur in a busy commercial kitchen.
And if you do find that your ice cream has melted, and you are left gazing at the puddle-like result you might harbour thoughts along the lines of ‘surely this can be refrozen?’ The temptation is to place it back in the freezer, and make believe that nobody will be any the wiser.
Well, bad move. There are few foods which really should not be refrozen after they have melted, and ice cream is one.
Even if it was safe to do so, would you really want to serve your customers anything other than ice cream that has been correctly stored, chilled and preserved? “No” is probably the answer, which is why it is important that you really know how to tell if ice cream has been melted and refrozen.
How to tell if ice cream has melted and refrozen
It loses air
When ice cream is fresh and delicious, it has a light and creamy texture. The reason for this is that when it is churned it becomes filled with air. Melted ice cream loses the air, and that means when it is returned to the freezer it reforms but as a dense, hard block instead. So, if your ice cream hasn’t got the beautiful, whipped consistency it once had the chances are it has been melted and refrozen. By the way, you could actually re-churn it to get the air back in, but as you will learn that isn’t the wisest choice.
If your ice cream is a more solid, denser consistency then it is entirely possible it has melted and refrozen. When ice cream melts, the fats and oils in the confection separate and when the confection is refrozen it will undergo a change of texture.
It becomes grainy
Have you ever eaten ice cream which seems to have crunchy crystals of ice on its surface? Well, the chances are it has been refrozen. You see, when ice cream is freshly made it is formed of teeny tiny crystals that are uniform in shape. The only experience you have of them on your tongue is the cold, as their texture is enveloped in the creaminess of the confection. Once ice cream is refrozen, however, much larger ice crystals are formed causing it to seem grainy and less delicious than it once was.
It has an unpleasant odour
Nobody wants to eat something that smells and tastes bad, but that’s not the only reason you should throw away ice cream if it has a curious odour and flavour. The bad news is that it could make you ill.
It could be a health hazard
Most ice cream is classed as a dairy product and that makes it a potential breeding ground for harmful bacteria if it is left to melt then freeze again.
An airtight container will certainly help, but if the ice cream has already been exposed to a warmer environment, then the chances are there will already be bacteria present.
This isn’t a problem if it is kept at the optimum temperate for ice cream – typically around -18°C (0°F) – as the cold temperature slows down the bacteria’s growth rate, but once it comes into contact with a warmer environment the bacteria will multiply.
This is why refreezing is a bad idea as bacteria such as listeria, can not only survive but thrive in your freezer.
Can ice cream that has melted and refrozen be eaten?
The short answer is no.
Melted and refrozen ice cream will have a different texture, taste, and quality. Not only that, you probably won’t be able to scoop it easily from the container because it will be more solid, and it may even be more watery.
Plus, you are risking the health of anyone who eats it, so if you do discover that this has happened the best policy is to throw it away.
At Venturepak, we are absolutely committed to providing the correct packaging for your products.
If you wish to store your ice cream in the correct receptacle created to meet the specific needs of a commercial kitchen then take a look at our fantastic range of ice cream containers.