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Tips on Storing & Handling Ice Cream

Keep It Cool!

The International Ice Cream Association offers these suggestions on the proper handling and storage of ice cream and frozen desserts to help consumers enjoy America's favorite treat to the fullest.

Ice cream is a perishable product and should be treated carefully. When frozen desserts are exposed to temperatures above 10°F, they become subject to adverse changes in body, texture and flavor characteristics. Although individual manufacturers' recipes yield ice cream of varying consistency and flavor, all ice cream will be negatively affected if improperly handled or stored. Because of the fluctuating temperatures in most home freezers, IICA recommends that people follow these tips, and enjoy ice cream within a month of purchase.

Here are some tips on how to keep ice cream in its most delectable form:

In the Store:

  • Make the ice cream aisle your last stop during your trip to the supermarket.
  • Check the temperature of your grocer's freezer case. The temperature in the supermarket's freezer case should not be above -20°F. If kept at a proper temperature, ice cream will be thoroughly frozen and will feel hard to the touch. If the product is soft, you may wish to bring it to the attention of the store manager.
  • In an open top freezer case, always select ice cream and frozen treats stored below the freezer line.
  • Put ice cream products in the separate section of your grocery cart, or place on top of other groceries.
  • Insulate ice cream products for the ride home. When your groceries are packed, request a freezer bag or additional brown paper bag to insulate your ice cream.
  • Make the grocery store or ice cream parlor your last errand before going home. This will insure that your ice cream does not sit in a warm car while you are making other stops.

At Home

  • Do not allow ice cream to repeatedly soften and re-freeze. When ice cream's small ice crystals melt and re-freeze, they can eventually turn into large, unpalatable lumps.
  • Your freezer should be set at between -5°F and 0°F. Ice cream is easy to dip between 6°F and 10°F, the ideal serving temperature range.
  • Store ice cream in the main part of the freezer. Do not store ice cream in the freezer door, where ice cream can be subject to more fluctuating temperatures since the door is repeatedly open and shut.
  • Keep the ice cream container lid tightly closed when storing in the freezer to reduce the formation of ice crystals. Once you’ve opened the container, you can press a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper directly on the surface of the ice cream before replacing the lid. Put it back in the freezer immediately after scooping. For long periods of storage, putting the ice cream in a gallon freezer bag will also help minimize ice crystals.
  • Don't store ice cream alongside uncovered foods; odors may penetrate ice cream and affect its flavor.

By following these simple suggestions, you can help ensure that your ice cream and other frozen dessert treats will stay the way they left the manufacturer — attractive and delicious!