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What Is Freezer Burn Ice Cream?

It’s happened to all of us: You reach inside your freezer to pull out a carton of your favorite ice cream, only to find ice crystals covering your dessert. Often called “freezer burn,” this frost on your ice cream may look unappetizing, but what actually is it?

What Causes Freezer Burn on Ice Cream?

When frozen foods are exposed to cold, dry air, they get dehydrated. The moisture that leaves your ice cream mixes with the air and then refreezes on the surface of your treat. That’s why it looks like there’s frost on your ice cream; it’s actually ice crystals created by the evaporated moisture. Putting partially melted ice cream back in your freezer can speed up the evaporation process, leading to more freezer burn, faster.

How Does Freezer Burn Affect Ice Cream Quality?

Freezer burn doesn’t necessarily ruin your ice cream, but it can impact the quality. The biggest difference between fresh and freezer burn ice cream is the texture. Once your ice cream has freezer burn, it loses the creamy consistency of fresh ice cream. Freezer burn can also alter the taste of your frozen treat.

Signs of Freezer Burn in Ice Cream

The easiest way to tell if your ice cream has freezer burn is to look at the top layer. Freezer burn in ice cream can vary from a few ice crystals on top of your ice cream to what looks like a sheet of frost across the whole thing.

3 Ways to Prevent Freezer Burn Ice Cream

Store Your Ice Cream Correctly

Storing your ice cream correctly is one of the most important ways you can prevent freezer burn. Make sure your freezer temperature is cold enough (think 0°F or colder) and store your ice cream upside down. That’s right: Flipping your ice cream upside down can help prevent freezer burn! This trick lets melted ice cream drip down into the lid, preventing freezer burn from ruining the rest of your treat.

Keep the Pint Airtight

Remember, air getting into your ice cream is what causes freezer burn. To keep that air out, you want to make sure you’re keeping your ice cream covered tightly — never store uncovered ice cream in the freezer! Besides keeping a lid on your pint or gallon, you can place plastic wrap tight across the surface of your ice cream before covering it with a lid. This will help stop ice crystals from forming.

Eat the Whole Thing

There’s one easy and fun way to make sure you never get freezer burn ice cream — finish your whole pint!

Ice Cream Storage Tips

Storing your ice cream properly is the best way to keep it tasting great and avoid freezer burn. Here are some tips for keeping your ice cream fresh in your freezer.

Keep Your Ice Cream Away from Your Freezer Door

Your freezer door is the warmest part of your freezer. This gives your ice cream more opportunity to melt, which leads to freezer burn. Instead, make sure you keep your pints of ice cream far back in your freezer, where warm air is less likely to reach them.

Don’t Let Strong Odors Ruin Your Ice Cream

Freezer burn isn’t the only threat to your ice cream! Strong odors can also impact the way your ice cream tastes. Make sure you aren’t storing your pints near food with strong odors (think fish or meat) and keep your ice cream covered. You can also keep your ice cream containers in freezer bags for extra protection!

Defrosting and Refreezing Ice Cream

You don’t want to let ice cream fully melt and then refreeze, as this can cause your ice cream to develop bacteria that could make you sick. To soften your ice cream before serving, you can put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to make scooping easier. Put the container back in the freezer once you’ve finished.

You can also cut through your gallon or pint of ice cream with a large serrated knife. Then, peel off the outer layer of the container and allow your portion of ice cream to defrost to your perfect consistency. Just make sure you cover and refreeze the rest of your ice cream to avoid freezer burn!

Can I Eat Freezer Burned Ice Cream?

If you spot some frost on your ice cream, don’t worry: It’s perfectly safe to eat. But since freezer burn can change ice cream’s taste and texture, make sure you follow our tips to prevent freezer burn on ice cream and keep your favorite frozen treats in good condition.

Ice Cream Recipe Ideas

 Looking for some ice cream inspiration? Check out some of our favorite ice cream recipes your friends and family will love.