How Long Does Ice Cream last?

Suppose you have a brand new carton of ice cream in your freezer, and by some miracle, you don’t polish it off in a day. How long is it going to last? Well, the next time you go back to the freezer and are faced with ice cream full of ice crystals, you will wonder where you went wrong. Was it the way you stored it or for some other reason?

Americans love to eat ice cream. It’s the girls who can’t resist ice cream, and they eat 15% more every year than males! In fact, Americans consume approximately 23 gallons of ice cream each year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).

This article will let you know how long ice creams last and answer any other pertinent questions you might have about ice cream.

Let’s dive in.

Does ice cream expire?

Yes, it does. Unlike many other products stored in the freezer, ice cream has a limited shelf life when stored at 0℉. An unopened carton of ice cream will last for two to three months, and after that, it will spoil. 

An opened carton of ice cream in the freezer will stay fresh for about six weeks but does become susceptible to freezer burn, which will spoil the ice cream.

Ice cream will lose its texture and become grainy, and the delicate flavor profiles will start to diminish, and eventually, the ice cream will not be edible.

Can you keep ice cream in the fridge?

For a short time, like 15 minutes, sometimes when you remove an opened carton of ice cream from the freezer, it can be spoon-bending hard, so leaving it in the fridge to thaw slightly so you can provide a better serving is required.

However, for long-term storage, the fridge is not cold enough to freeze ice cream, and you will be left with a carton full of flavored milk that will not freeze like ice cream.

When ice cream is made, it has a lot of air churned into it, creating that fluffy texture, one the ice cream has melted, the air is removed, and refreezing will cause solid ice crystals, making the ice cream less desirable.

Does frozen ice cream go bad?

Yes. An unopened container of ice cream will last for two to three months and still be in peak condition. Once you go past the three months mark, the ice cream will start to degrade, the flavor profile will diminish slowly, the texture of the ice cream will also change, and eventually, the ice cream will be inedible.

Open ice cream will last for a short six weeks in the freezer. Once opened, the ice cream becomes susceptible to freezer burn, creating tiny ice crystals in the ice cream for sublimation.

Sublimation id effectively dehydrates the ice cream, and the ice crystals make the ice cream flavorless.

There is a top tip to avoid freezer burn, store your opened container of ice cream upside down to remove the air void at the top of the container.

Does ice cream need to be covered?

Yes. Leaving uncovered ice cream in the freezer will encourage the formation of ice crystals; every time the freezer door is opened, sublimation will occur. Plus, ice cream will pick up any unwanted flavors that may be circulating in the freezer.

It is a bad idea.

Can ice cream go bad in the freezer?

Yes, but it doesn’t go bad as it turns sour. Over time the product degrades to the extent that it is no longer edible. Of course, this degradation does not happen overnight. If you pass the expiration date for an unopened carton of ice cream, the ice cream will start to lose its texture and flavor profile.

An unopened carton of ice cream in the freezer can be good and in peak condition for up to three months.

However, opened ice cream has a much shorter shelf life and lasts only six weeks in the freezer. It is the perfect excuse to eat some ice cream.

Can ice cream go bad if left uncovered in the freezer?

No. Poor packaging in a freezer is responsible for freezer burn, freezer burn dehydrates food, and desiccated ice cream is not a pleasant treat for you or your family.

Ice cream must be kept airtight; if you have half a carton, store the cartoon upside down. This will help prevent freezer burn.

In addition, ice crystals in freezers can be contaminated with all sorts of bacteria, from products that contain blood to general debris that freezer ice contains from opening the freezer door continuously.

Keep it airtight.

Can ice cream go bad if left out overnight?

If you have inadvertently left your ice cream out overnight, you would be wise to consider it has gone bad, regardless of the smell and appearance.

Listeria-producing bacteria can flourish as the ice melts. When ice cream is refrozen, listeria outbreaks can happen. The bacteria may bring on severe sickness. You should err on the side of caution and discard any melted ice cream.

The USDA recommends that any perishable food left out for two hours or more should be considered contaminated and thrown in the garbage.

Can soft-serve ice cream go bad?

Yes. Soft-serve ice cream is different from store-bought ice cream.

The soft ice cream is typically served or portioned out into containers before being placed in a freezer set to zero degrees Fahrenheit to “cure” or freeze (-18 C).

How long does it last? Both the temperature and the flow of the air are factors. Ice cream containers and cakes will melt more quickly in the hot sun with a breeze than in the cool shade and still air.

Keep it away from areas that are windy and in direct sunlight. Keep the container’s bottom and sides as cold as you can. Eat it right away after serving.

Can lactose-free ice cream go bad in the freezer?

Non-Dairy Ice Cream will go bad in the freezer, but it depends on the source of the non-dairy ingredient.

Plant milk is different from dairy milk. It is delicate, it does not contain the fats and sugars that dairy ice cream uses, and as a consequence has a much shorter shelf life.

If you buy coconut, soy, or almond milk ice cream, you can expect a shelf life of just five to seven days and nothing more.

Rice milk is known to have a long shelf life and lasts for six months in the fridge. Ice cream from rice milk may be the way forward to extending non-dairy ice creams.

Can ice cream cake go bad?

Yes, it does. But you have to consider how many different components are in the cake to see why it has a relatively short shelf life of just seven days.

Ice cream cakes are not solid blocks of ice cream. It has a cake mix base that supports the ice cream and other components.

There will be whipped topping for you to enjoy that will not have an extended shelf life like ice cream. Plus, any decorative fruit elements are used on the ice cream cake.

So here are the facts about ice cream cake. 

  • It can be kept in the freezer for 7 to 10 days before it spoils.
  • You can store it at room temperature for 12 hours. Don’t refreeze after.
  • Place a grease-proof lining between the plate and the ice cream cake. This will prevent any condensation on the plate from being absorbed into the cake layer, making it soggy.

Can ice cream cones go bad?

Yes. Ice cream cones have a short shelf life of approximately five days, and it’s imperative that you store the ice cream cones in an airtight container to maximize their freshness.

Ice cream cones are dry and will absorb moisture quickly, which takes away the pleasure of eating ice cream from a cone when the crunch has gone.

However, you can try to refresh the ice cream cones by using this simple hack. Place a cone standing in a microwave and zap it for 30 seconds. The moisture should have evaporated from the cone and restored the crispiness.

It’s said that they will not taste as good but sometimes compromise is the best way forward.

Final thoughts

Delicious ice cream is quite a delicate product. Consequently, it does not have a long shelf life like other frozen products. But it is so delicious even if it lasts for three months unopened and just six weeks when opened, it is still a treat for the family.

Storage is crucial to extending the life of ice cream. Always keep the lid airtight to avoid the dread of freezer burn. The store opened ice cream containers upside down, and this will eliminate freezer burn.

If you have left ice cream on the side for more than two hours, it is not only melted but picked up potentially harmful bacteria and should be discarded in line with the USDA guidelines for perishable foods.

Ice cream cake is not just ice cream, so it will not last as long as ice cream in the freezer, 7 days maximum and 12 hours at room temperature.

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