Does Ice Cream Go Bad?

Everything you need to know about ice cream expiration

Written by Elisa Chan. Updated on Does Ice Cream Go Bad

Ice cream is a delicious dessert that is loved by many people of all ages all over the world. Today we have a chance to enjoy dozens of this yummy of different flavors, colors, and consistency.
Naturally, many of us may wonder: does ice cream expire?

In this article, we will tell you everything one needs to know about ice cream expiration and how to store this tasty sweet dessert properly so that it will be possible to enjoy longer.
Let’s go!

Ice Cream Production

To begin with, let’s find out how ice cream is actually made. Even though ice cream seems to be a frozen creamy substance, in fact, it is a blend of different dairy products like condensed milk, cream, and butterfat together with sugar, flavoring, and other additives that serve as emulsifiers or stabilizers.

The process of ice cream making consists of several steps. First of all, milk is mixed with sugar, eggs (if needed), and additives and all this is blended for a while.

What ice cream do you like best of all?
Ice cream sundae
Chocolate ice cream
Fruit ice cream

Then the mixture is pasteurized to destroy any harmful bacteria and is being sent to homogenize under the high air pressure. It allows the substance to become solid.
Finally, the blend is being cooled down and flavorings are added.The very last stage of the process is freezing and further packaging.

does ice cream expire
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What usefulness can such a product have, you may ask?

Well, in fact, ice cream does have several benefits that are good to know about when next time someone will say that this is just a mix of milky sugar!

Ice cream contains vitamins A, B6 and B12, C, D, K, and E.

Ice cream is a great source of energy as it contains a lot of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.

Since ice cream is made of milk, it has a high amount of calcium and phosphorus that help to strengthen our bones and avoid kidney stones.
Finally, ice cream works well as a brain stimulator!

Since this simple and so well-known product is so useful, why not learn more about how to store it correctly to extend the ice cream life span to be able to enjoy its taste longer?

Ice Cream Shelf Life

ice cream expiration
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Some of you may become quite surprised. The shelf life of ice cream?! Guys, just toss it into the freezer and forget about it! Why so serious?!
In fact, ice cream does have its expiry date, just imagine that!

How often do you eat ice cream?
Only when it's hot
Both in winter and summer
I eat ice cream rarely

Since it is made of dairy products, it can’t last forever only because it was once pretty well frozen. In fact, its duration of validity depends not only on the expiry date printed on the cover but also on the storage conditions and the method it was prepared with.

How long does ice cream last in this case?

Ice Cream Shelf Life
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Generally, when being stored correctly, ice cream will remain edible for two or even three months beyond its expiry date.
However, you need to take into account that opened and unopened ice cream has a different term of validity, as well.
Besides, there are several issues regarding ice cream storage that will be useful for everyone to know.

How long does ice cream last in the freezer

When being stored under the correct conditions and when being still fresh, unopened ice cream will remain consumable for three months at most past its expiry date.
However, after it is opened, the dessert will stay edible for two months maximum.

How long is ice cream good for?

If stored frozen, the unopened pack will still be eatable even after two or three months past the expiry date printed on the tank.

Ice Cream Shelf Life
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Can ice cream be consumed after the expiration date?

This question bothers many people as you can have a lot of excess ice cream at home without knowing whether it is safe to eat it or let your kids do that or not.

Let us calm you down. If you have been storing ice cream properly after it was bought, the dessert will still be edible even after two months past its expiry date when unopened. However, three months is the maximum term.

How long does ice cream last
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Is it OK to freeze the ice cream for the second time or more?

Actually, ice cream is sensitive to the temperature fluctuations and constant freezing and unfreezing will sooner or later ruin it and lead to spoilage even faster than you expected.

So, if you re-freeze it once, it is OK but avoid repeating this regularly.

However, it still often happens that ice cream turns bad even if you keep it in the freezer! Why is it so? And how do you tell the difference between spoiled ice cream and good ice cream?

Let’s find it out!

Expired Ice Cream Symptoms

Does Ice Cream Go Bad?
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The very first question that one may ask is: can ice cream go bad? Well, why not? Since ice cream is made of dairy products, it can still be exposed to the influence of different harmful external factors that may lead to spoilage.

How to tell if ice cream is bad?

To easily define whether or not your ice cream is bad, consider giving it an inspection and search for the following signs of spoilage:

  1. Ice shards on the surface of the product
  2. Ice shards on the insides of the package and under the lid (in case your ice cream is in a carton box)
  3. Gooey texture

When noticing even one of those signs, you’d better discard the whole carton of the frozen yummy even though you might feel sorry about it! As you know, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The most effective way is to examine it attentively. Normally, when the ice cream starts getting bad, its surface begins to get covered with the tiny ice shards that can also be found on the lid from the inside (that’s if your ice cream is kept in the plastic tank).

After a while, these shards get deeper and turn the expired ice cream into a goo. And that’s the obvious sign that the carton must be discarded.

How to tell if ice cream is bad
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Can you get food poisoning from ice cream if you eat some by accident? Unfortunately, it can just like any other spoiled food.

So, whenever you notice the slightest signs of food poisoning like nausea, general weakness or shivers, call the doctor or visit the hospital if you can.

And anyway, eating old ice cream doesn’t worth it! Just discard the spoiled dessert and buy a new one.

Follow these easy tips and keep an eye on the ice cream that has been staying in the freezer for too long, and you will protect yourself from any unpleasant effects.

How to tell if ice cream is bad (2)
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Can You Get Sick From Eating Old Ice Cream?

Many ice cream lovers are concerned about this issue, to be honest.

You might think that ice cream can not go bad and especially harmful for your health, but in fact, this dessert can.

Of course, if your ice cream that you have been keeping in the freezer shows the minor signs of decay (like tiny ice shards here and there), it is still ok to eat it – just remove the shard-covered part away from the carton!

However, if you see that ice cream became gooey or if it’s totally penetrated with ice shards that turned the delicate yummy into an icy clump, then it must be thrown away.

See, since ice cream is made with the use of dairy products, which is why, once it gets spoiled, it becomes dangerous for your health.

In addition, if ice cream was made without following proper safety rules, it may be contaminated with bacteria, such as Listeria! And eating that stuff may result in food poisoning and even hospitalization!

Get Sick From Eating Old Ice Cream
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How Long Is Ice Cream Good For When Prepared In a Dish?

What? Adding ice cream to dishes?! We can already imagine you asking that! But of course, nobody is talking about adding this sweet milky dessert into a hot casserole!

However, adding ice cream into cold desserts and even into your breakfast yogurt is quite a common practice! It will give extra taste and flavor, and besides, many people use ice cream in their foods instead of sugar.

Of course, if you decide to add ice cream into your morning yogurt meal or into another dessert, you need to consider one obvious fact: ice cream will not last long enough! Especially if left out of the freezer.

Usually, even if you make a dish in advance and you plan to keep it refrigerated, ice cream will start melting since it requires lower temperatures for staying solid.

How Long Is Ice Cream Good For When Prepared In a Dish
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This is why we recommend you add ice cream to any dish or dessert right before serving it. Like this, you will preserve its taste and you will avoid any unwanted health issues that may take place if the foodstuff is left out for too long.

But in general, this yummy can sit out for a maximum of two hours.

And if you are wondering how long this cold dessert will last if you keep it in an ice cream dish frozen, you should expect for a term of approximately a few weeks for sure. If you cover the dish with ice cream in it, the lifespan of the dessert can be extended.

Curious Details Regarding Ice Cream We Were Not Aware Of

Curious Details Regarding Ice Cream We Were Not Aware Of
Photo by Dovile Ramoskaite

Everyone enjoys ice cream and we always grab one or two on the way home, especially in summer. But what do we know about this popular dessert except for the fact that it’s extremely widespread all over the world?

We have found several interesting and mind-blowing facts about this sweet milky dessert that, we bet, you could not even think of before!

Ready to dive into the mysteries of the icy life? Then stay tuned!

1. Ice cream makes us thirsty!

Have you ever noticed that? When we eat a portion of this sweet treat, most of us start feeling thirsty. And that’s why it happens. Since ice cream contains sugar, fat, and amino acids, after all of them enter our bloodstream, they circulate through the body draining our cells and collecting moisture out of them.

As a result, the general level of moisture gets lower, and our body starts thinking that it’s dehydrated! This is why we always want to drink some water after we eat some cold dessert (actually, just like any other sweet thing).

The decision is simple: keep a bottle of water with you all the time to keep up your water balance.

2. Nobody still knows who and when created ice cream!

This mystery is still unsolved. We know that in Ancient Rome rich people enjoyed ice mixed with fruits and berries topped with honey, and the same sweet treat was popular in Japan long ago. But we have no idea of the name of the person who first made the ice cream as it is known today.

3. The waffle cones were created by accident!

 It happened in 1904 at the World’s Fair In the USA when one of the vendors that were selling this sweet treat ran out of paper holders. He bought waffles from the seller nearby to make cones, and that’s how everything began.

4. Ice cream used to be a lavishness!

Yes, due to the expensive ingredients like ice, cream, and natural flavorings like chocolate or vanilla, only noble people and royalty could enjoy this dessert for quite a long time.

In Hawaii, there grows an ice cream fruit
Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography

5. In Hawaii, there grows an ice cream fruit!

The locals call it the ice cream bean and it really tastes like vanilla dessert!

6. Eating ice cream can cause brain freeze!

If we eat a lot of this stuff our head can start aching! That is because we have special sensors on the roof of the mouth. When they get in contact with cold before the body can process it, the nerves tell the brain of the heat loss. So the simple contact with a too cold dessert can have quite unpleasant results.

To skip that, hold the tongue against the mouth roof – it will help the sensors to warm up a bit.

7. It’s possible to make ice cream from yogurt!

Only you’ll need an ice cream making machine for that. All you need is a full-fat plain yogurt, a cup of sugar, and a pinch of salt – and voila! Icy yummy is ready!

8. A thin layer of ice crystals on ice cream is fine

People believe that ice crystals show that the food has turned bad, but with ice cream, it’s not quite right. Of it’s only a thin layer of tiny crystals and the expiry term hasn’t run out, then enjoy the dessert safely. Probably, it’s just a bit too chilly in your freezer.

But if you see that ice cream id covered with elongated icy crystals and smells/tastes off, then it’s done.

Written by
Elisa is a passionate cook who will advise you on healthy and delicious food topics! With her help, you will discover how to properly store and freeze food, as well as learn important nuances about preserving vitamins in your meals to make them stay nutritious.
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