As exciting as it is to walk into an ice cream parlor and pick from one of the fabulous flavors, so is it equally exciting to make ice cream at home! But what is ice cream and how to store it correctly? Hopefully I can answer all these questions!
What is Ice Cream
Ice cream is a frozen dairy food; a soft, creamy delight made from milk, cream or butterfat, sugar, and other ingredients, including eggs.
Over the years, the ease of travel has made international types of ice cream readily available, like gelato, sorbet, frozen yogurt, frozen custard or French ice cream, and dairy-free versions.
The key to making truly splendid homemade ice cream is using the right ingredients and techniques and properly storing it.
Types of ice cream
Although similar in style, there are a few types of ice creams out there, depending on the ingredients used:
- French-Style: always made with eggs, so it’s a more custard style.
- Philadelphia-Style (or American Style): made with no eggs, just milk, cream and sugar
- Gelato – an Italian style of making ice cream, you can read about in my post, What is Gelato
- Sorbet – a water and fruit-based treat – read about it in my post What is Sorbet
Storing homemade ice cream the right way is as important as making it the right way. This applies to homemade and store-bought pints of ice cream. It all comes down to keeping it as cold and stable as possible.
The ideal temperature for storing ice cream is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. You’ll probably want to check your freezer’s temperature to ensure it’s perfect for this.
Also, you must avoid putting melted ice cream in the freezer; scoop how much you need and keep the ice cream container right back to freeze. Every time ice cream is exposed to warm air, some of the trapped ice crystals melt and re-form to form large ice crystals when you refreeze it.
The back of the freezer is the coldest part, and this is where you must store your ice cream away from the freezer door to keep it well below its freezing point. Keep some other frozen-sold items over the ice cream container to protect it from temperature fluctuations when you open and close the freezer door.
Whatever you do, never place ice cream in your freezer door. Every time you open the freezer door, the items on it are exposed to temperature fluctuations. Ice cream in the freezer door is bound to thaw and refreeze (probably even get freezer burn), lowering its texture and quality.
Always use freezer-safe, airtight containers to store homemade ice cream (like Tupperware plastic containers). Go for plastic containers instead of glass, ceramic, or metal ones.
It’s also important to put the lid back on tightly after you scoop your share and keep it back in the freezer to prevent ice crystals from forming.
Storing homemade ice creams in shallow, flat containers helps maintain an even consistency. They’re also great for easy scooping. Storage containers with a high surface area-to-volume ratio expose the ice cream mass to cold air and help in fast freezing.
Dairy products absorb smells easily, so you must store ice cream away from items with a strong scent (like pizza, chili, fish, etc.), especially uncovered food items.
Use plastic wrap, wax paper, or parchment paper over the surface of the ice cream. This will prevent ice crystals from forming, form a barrier for air and moisture, and extend the life of your ice cream.
Thanks to the clever trick Ben & Jerry’s shared in 2020, you can keep ice cream in excellent condition. It may sound messy and even weird, but always store your ice cream container upside down; any ice cream that’s melted will drip and freeze on the lid, while the remaining ice cream will be protected from oxygen exposure.
The Cherry on top!!
There’s no magic or complicated science involved in making and storing fine ice cream. You can find recipes galore for making the many flavors of ice cream, and when stored the right way, you can enjoy your frozen creation any time you crave it. Of course, it goes without saying – don’t leave your ice cream waiting for more than a couple of weeks in the freezer. I know mine doesn’t last very long!
Here are a few places to eat ice cream!
Try ice cream in these places: