There are definite upsides to not finishing an entire container of ice cream in one sitting, but a major con is that you risk freezer burn on the leftovers. Those insidious ice crystals ruin ice cream’s soft texture and fresh flavor. Luckily, there are easy ways to prevent freezer burn in the first place.
Is Freezer Burn Harmful?
No, freezer burn isn’t harmful and won’t make you sick, but it does adversely affect the texture and flavor of your ice cream.
Can You Fix Freezer Burn?
Unfortunately, no. There’s no way to reverse freezer burn (just scrape off the freezer burned areas if you really hate them; the ice cream underneath will still be fine).
What Causes Freezer Burn?
Temperature and air are the enemies here.
Once your ice cream softens and starts to melt, putting it back in a freezer that’s not super cold means it takes longer to return to a solid state, which gives larger, crunchy ice crystals a chance to form.
Leaving the surface of ice cream exposed to air (even just what’s there in a partially empty but tightly lidded carton) also encourages crystal formation; per Ben & Jerry’s, “As the moisture leaves the ice cream and joins forces with moist ambient air, it refreezes on the ice cream’s surface, creating the tell-tale crystals that indicate freezer burn.”
How Do You Prevent Freezer Burn?
Since you can’t fix freezer burn, an ounce of prevention is worth a pint of cure (or something like that)! Here are some of the best ways to stop freezer burn from happening in the first place:
Only Take Out as Much Ice Cream as You Want to Eat
You might need to soften your ice cream a little in order to scoop out what you want, but put the rest back right away. A solid ice cream scoop will help you serve yourself ASAP.
Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop, $19.95 from Sur La Table
This cast aluminum model contains self-defrosting fluid in the handle that helps you scoop even solid ice cream.
Cut the Empty Part of the Container Off Before Replacing the Lid
Empty space in your pint or gallon means extra air, and air means ice crystals; for a quick fix, trim the container down close to the surface of the ice cream and put the lid back on:
Press Plastic Wrap or Wax Paper onto the Surface of the Ice Cream
This serves the same purpose as the above trick, but is even better since the seal is air-tight (plus, no ice cream to wash off your kitchen shears). This method is also helpful if you make ice cream at home and aren’t storing it in a container you can cut down to size.
Bee’s Wrap Sustainable and Reusable Beeswax Food Wraps, $18 from Amazon
If you're looking for an eco-friendly alternative to plastic.
Store It Upside Down
This works because it lets the melted ice cream trickle down to the lid, so it forms ice crystals there instead of on the surface of the ice cream itself.
Store Your Ice Cream in the Coldest Part of Your Freezer
We already learned that keeping your ice cream cold is important, but to that end, you should also store it in the very back of your freezer where the temperature is lowest and most consistent. If you have a chest freezer, that’s the better place to store it, since they tend to be colder.
Related Reading: Freezer Storage Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Food Fresh
Header image by Chowhound