How Long Does It Take for Ice Cream to Get Freezer Burn and How Can You Prevent It?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 10th, 2023

If you’re an ice cream aficionado and always have a tub in your freezer for those midnight cravings, this article is a must-read for you. Understanding how and when ice cream succumbs to freezer burn can be crucial to prolonging its life and maintaining that delectable taste and creamy texture. Let’s dive into how long it takes for freezer burn to spoil your ice cream and the best ways to prevent it.

The Timeline for Ice Cream and Freezer Burn

Ice cream is susceptible to freezer burn within a timeframe that ranges from a few weeks to several months. Several factors contribute to how quickly this occurs, the most important being the air-tightness of the container and the freezer’s temperature setting. Ideally, the colder you keep your freezer—aiming for 20 to 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit—the better your ice cream will hold up.

photo of ice cream

Understanding Freezer Burn

So, what exactly is a freezer burn? It is essentially a form of dehydration that occurs when air infiltrates food stored in a freezer. Depending on how airtight your ice cream container is, freezer burn can manifest in as little as a few months. Although consuming freezer-burned food isn’t a health risk, it does compromise the taste and quality of your ice cream.

The Science Behind Freezer Burn

When the water in the ice cream turns into vapor and mingles with the air, it freezes back onto the ice cream’s surface, causing a freezer burn. That’s why it’s so crucial to store ice cream in an airtight container in a properly regulated freezer. By doing so, you minimize the risk of air intrusion that can kickstart the process of sublimation, leading to freezer burn.

The Optimal Freezer Temperature for Ice Cream

To avoid this chilling predicament, it’s advisable to keep your freezer temperature below 0°F. Keeping a freezer thermometer inside can give you an accurate reading, helping you maintain the optimal environment for ice cream storage. Ice cream experts like Britton Bauer suggest that 20 to 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit is the sweet spot for ice cream conservation.

Does Ice Cream Have an Expiry Date?

While ice cream can last quite a while when stored properly, it’s not immortal. Store-bought ice cream typically has a shelf life of up to two months when unopened. Once you break that seal, the quality will begin to degrade over time. Homemade ice cream, on the other hand, can stay good for up to two weeks, but keeping it at the right temperature is paramount.

Risks of Consuming Freezer-Burned Ice Cream

Freezer burn negatively affects the ice cream’s texture and flavor. While it’s still safe to eat, it’s far from the treat you’d hope for. Minimizing the number of times you open the freezer and using an airtight container are both crucial steps in prolonging your ice cream’s life.

Tips for Preventing Freezer Burn

Sealing your ice cream container tightly is the first step in fighting freezer burn. You can also wrap the container in plastic wrap, wax paper, or parchment paper to add an extra layer of protection. Vacuum sealing is another effective technique to keep air out and maintain freshness.

Identifying Freezer-Burned Ice Cream

Visual cues like icy crystals forming on the surface or changes in the ice cream’s color are the first signs that your ice cream has been freezer-burned. The taste may also take a hit; it will be bland and far less creamy than fresh ice cream.

Storing Homemade Ice Cream

If you’re someone who loves making homemade ice cream, the same rules apply: Keep it airtight and cold. Each time you open the container, make sure to seal it back tightly. For an added layer of protection, place a layer of plastic wrap or wax paper over the surface of the ice cream before sealing the lid.

By understanding the nuances of how ice cream reacts to freezer burn, you’re equipping yourself with the knowledge to prolong the life of your favorite frozen treat. Follow these tips and you’ll be less likely to face the icy disappointment of freezer-burned ice cream ever again.


Editorial Staff

Our writers, editors, content managers, and SEO specialist. We all take part in crafting amazing articles. We spend hours ensuring that each article is based on facts, researched, and thorough. You'll never want to click the back button to look for more answers other than here!