How Long Is Ice Cream Good For In The Freezer?

It is generally agreed that ice cream is, although not an essential food group, rather critical for our general existence. I exaggerate, you might say. Nay, say I. Reflect back on the sheer delight you felt when you cracked open the freeze…and there, in all its’ glory, stood a fresh tub of ice cream!

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It is generally agreed that ice cream is, although not an essential food group, rather critical for our general existence. I exaggerate, you might say. Nay, say I. Reflect back on the sheer delight you felt when you cracked open the freeze…and there, in all its’ glory, stood a fresh tub of ice cream!

ice cream

Or that moment when you felt completely out of sorts, tired, disgruntled, just plain done in; and as is typical amongst most of us, you peeked in the refrigerator to see if there was anything interesting happening in there. Nothing, as usual. Fresh organic broccoli isn’t very appealing even at the best of times. So you let out a grunt, feeling vaguely disappointed, and yank open the freezer. And lo, what do you see?  

rolled ice cream

A half-tub of chocolate ice cream! Mother lode during moments of emotional upheaval, or when you’re hungry, or when you’re stuffed but still feeling like stuffing yourself, or even as dessert, for when has ice cream not been a perfectly acceptable cap to a good meal? And you dig in with gusto, some semblance of balance restored to your world.

Ice cream just does it, pretty much for all of us. This one food (is it even food? Some would call it manna from heaven), or dessert, or confection, call it what you will, cuts across all boundaries. There is probably no country or culture that rejects ice cream. Perhaps the choice of flavors may differ, or toppings, if that be your pleasure, but you’d be hard put to find an ice cream hater.

We have firmly established how strongly most of us feel about just how delightful ice cream really is. We must now address the weightier matter of that half tub of chocolate ice cream we discovered in our freezer. Someone got to it first, but by luck, didn’t polish it off, leaving a little behind for some poor soul in need of cheering-up.

Now, to the crux of the matter. We rarely ask ourselves: How long is ice cream good for in the freezer?

Check The Expiry Date

The least-checked expiry date is for ice cream. We just take it for granted that ice cream is good for a long, long time. It’s stays in the freezer, after all. So what if there are some icicles on the top layer, or it smells different? After the first spoonful or two, it tastes just as good as ever!

The great Shakespeare once opened his freezer, and upon spying some acorn-flavored ice cream, proclaimed “To eat or not to eat?”

I made that up; they didn’t have freezers then. But the question remains: To eat or not to eat? We’ll try to answer that for you, so read on.

There is usually a “Best Before” date on the container or tub of ice cream we buy. Since it’s a delicious treat and generally gobbled up well before that, there is no concern about it spoiling or getting freezer burn. 

What happens, though, after that date? And what is freezer burn, exactly?

Health Issues

When a tub of ice-cream is opened, and eaten from, there is bacteria transferred from the person eating to the tub of ice cream. This can happen via the spoon, or if you sneeze, or you munch on some chips and a flake or two falls into the tub. There is bacteria all around us, and some of this bacteria will find its find its way into your ice cream.

More important is how soon you return that half-eaten tub to the freezer. If you let it sit outside, and the ice cream begins to melt, you increase the chance of it going bad.

We have this habit of eating ice cream while watching TV, for example. You start dozing, and put the ice cream aside, where it turns slushy. When you realize water is puddling around it on your table, you return it to the freezer. This changes the texture of the ice cream when if freezes again, and it’s also a health risk.

Good Ice Cream Eating Habits!

A good practice is to not eat directly from the tub or container. Scoop out what you feel like eating into a bowl, and return the tub to the freezer immediately.

This is good food hygiene and can prevent food-borne illness. It’s also less yucky to someone else who wants some ice cream as well. 

dog-licking-ice-cream-mikkel-bendix

They may not have the highest regard for your oral hygiene, and may not want to share directly from that tub you just ate from. So be considerate.

Oh yeah, and much as you like sharing with your dog, don’t. It’s bad for both of you!

Can Ice Cream Go Bad?

How can you tell if ice cream has gone bad?

One common sign is tiny ice shards on top layer of the ice cream, and under the lid. Initially you can remove the ice crystals, and scrape away the icy top layer, and still eat the ice cream. After a number of times being taken out and returned to the freezer, ice cream can turn into a gooey mess. You don’t want to eat this mess; it’s unappetizing anyway. This icy, gummy gloop has gone bad and it will harm you.

Can ice cream make you sick? Yes, it certainly can. Expired ice cream, or ice cream that has been thawed and then re-frozen many times, increases your risk of food-borne illness due to bacteria. Symptoms of food-borne sickness includes severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.

The easiest way to avoid sickness due to spoilt ice cream, and to avoid ice cream going bad in the first place is by doing this:

What Is Freezer Burn?

Freezer burn is the result of moisture loss from storage in the freezer.

It leads to changes in the quality of food or ice cream. It may result in ice crystals, withered greens, and tough, rubbery meats.

However, despite the quality changes, all this food is safe to eat. It may not taste or look the same, but it can still be eaten. Most people just dump it, but that’s unnecessary, avoidable.

Foodstuff like vegetables & meats can last a long time without freezer burn if stored properly. This means air-tight containers or well-sealed packets. This prevents moisture loss, and thus freezer burn. Even ice cubes tend to clump together when left too long in the freezer.

It’s actually easier to prevent freezer burn for ice cream, which usually comes in well-sealed tubs or containers anyway.  The danger lies in not closing the lid tightly or properly when returning it to the freezer. By taking pains to seal it shut tightly, and making sure it’s twisted closed at the correct angle, you’ll find ice cream stays good for a long time.

Here’s an interesting fact. The more often you thaw and refreeze your ice cream, the coarser it will feel. That’s because frequent thawing and refreezing make the crystals on the top layer larger, which in turn makes it feel icier and coarser to us.

The conclusion? Share your ice cream with someone special, and finish it one sitting!

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