When someone buys ice cream, it is generally finished within a week. It’s a tasty treat that everyone loves, and even if you don’t have a large family, it’s the perfect dessert option for guests. That’s why not everyone figures out whether ice cream can expire or not.
In fact, having ice cream in your freezer for so long that it expires is not a common occurrence. Despite being a rarity, it is a good idea to stay aware of this aspect. If you’re prone to buying food in bulk, particularly ice cream, it is a good idea to pay attention to the expiry date that the products have.
If you’re wondering whether ice cream expires or not, we have the answer to this question and others that you might have here.
So, Does Ice Cream Expire? Yes, ice cream does expire. Given that ice cream is a dairy product, ice cream is classified as a perishable good. This means that it has a short shelf-life and must be eaten as soon as possible. Additionally, bacterial contamination is a real danger with expired ice cream.
Bacteria tend to thrive in foods that are rich in proteins and have a lot of moisture. These foods can range from dairy, poultry eggs, and meat and fish products. Freezing foods can help to slow down the growth of bacteria, but it doesn’t kill them.
This means that every time you take the ice cream out of the fridge and let it thaw, bacterial growth can accelerate. Over time, if the expiry date has gone by, the ice cream in your freezer can become expired. In this case, it is best not to eat it, even if it tastes fine to you.
Other Things You Need to Know About Ice Cream Expiry
Now that you know about ice cream expiry, there might be other questions that you might have regarding ice cream.
Despite being a favorite dessert, many people don’t know much about it. Apart from keeping it in the freezer, there is not much known about the shelf life, expiry, and even the right storage method for ice cream.
If you’re interested in learning about all these aspects, the following are a few more things that you should know about ice cream, expiry, and more.
How Long Does Ice Cream Stay Good for?
This depends upon the state of the ice cream that you have. If the ice cream remains unopened, as in, it is still sealed; you can keep it in your freezer for up to 3 to 4 months without any depreciation in the quality. This makes it easier to stock up on your favorite flavor and buy it in bulk and enjoy it for a month or two.
However, if the ice cream seal is open, you can only keep it in your freezer for 1 to 2 months. After this, the ice cream will begin to lose its texture and start to go bad. Eating it is not advisable, and you should discard it as soon as possible to avoid the chances of food contamination.
It is prudent to note that this only applies to commercial ice cream that comes in tubs and containers. Home-made ice cream is the same as opened ice cream. It can last for 1 to 2 months, but only if proper precautions are undertaken to store it. Improper storage can mean that home-made ice cream will only last for a maximum time period of 2 weeks.
What are the Signs of Expired Ice Cream?
Expired ice cream can be hard to distinguish from regular ice cream as it doesn’t start to smell bad or grow fungus. Since it is usually kept in a freezer, the low temperature significantly slows down the growth of the bacteria. However, expired ice cream does have some visible signs that you should pay attention to.
The following are common signs that show that your ice cream has expired:
- Ice Crystals – This happens when the moisture in the ice cream starts to crystalize. This is different from freezer burn and very noticeable in the form of small ice shards. These will first start to form on the topmost layer and then travel down to the bottom.
- The Texture of the Ice Cream – As the ice crystals form, the texture of the ice cream will start to change as well. One of the most significant signs of ice cream expiry is when the texture goes from creamy and smooth to a gooey sludge with ice crystals in it.
Both signs don’t need to be present to show that the ice cream has expired. As soon as you can see that the ice crystals are there, you should consider the ice cream has expired. By the time the texture changes, the ice cream is well and indeed expired and is not fit for consumption by anyone.
Do You Get Food Poisoning from Expired Ice Cream?
Yes, you can get food poisoning from expired ice cream. When it comes to bacterial food contamination, few people ever consider how much bacterial growth can occur in ice cream. When broken down, ice cream has all the components that a bacteria need to thrive in.
Moreover, continually melting and re-freezing ice cream also increases the chances of bacterial growth in the tub. This is the number one reason why people recommend that you defrost your ice cream in the fridge instead of thawing it at room temperature. Allowing it to melt at room temperature is faster, but so is the bacterial growth then.
At room temperature, ice cream not only melts but turns into a veritable petri-dish for the bacteria. Even the sugars in the ice cream can help to aid strong bacterial growth. Surprisingly, ice cream has caused several outbreaks of food poisoning. This is due to bacterial food contamination. It’s just that people rarely look upon it as a potential food poisoning source.
Over the years, nearly 75 outbreaks of bacterial infections have occurred because of ice cream and bacterial contamination. Out of this number, the most significant occurrence was in 1994 when people fell ill over poorly pasteurized milk that was then used to make ice cream.
Does Handmade Ice Cream Expire Faster?
In many ways, handmade ice cream tends to expire faster, primarily based on the ingredients that are being used. Most handmade ice cream only contains milk, cream, and other liquids, but some also contain eggs, fruits, and more. As previously mentioned, protein-rich foods can be more prone to growing bacteria.
The richer the ingredients are, the faster the ice cream may expire. This is because bacterial growth is going to be faster in protein-rich foods. Even hand-making sorbet, a dessert that has sugar and water, can mean that it will have a shorter shelf life than traditional, store-bought ice cream.
Another reason why this is true is that handmade ice cream is not commercially produced, stored, and sealed like commercial ice cream is. There is a higher chance of contaminants in it as compared to the store-bought ice cream. Since it expires faster, it also has a shorter shelf life as well.
How Can You Extend the Shelf Life of Ice Cream?
When it comes to extending the shelf life of ice cream, you have to make sure to store it properly, especially after you thaw it and open it.
As stated, unopened ice cream has a larger shelf life of 3 to 4 months, but even after you open it, if you store it properly, you can make sure that the ice cream lasts you for a long time.
For this, make sure that you follow these steps:
- Pop it Back in the Freezer– Make sure to put the ice cream back into the freezer immediately after you have eaten it. Do not leave it to melt or thaw any further on the table or the kitchen counter. The less exposure it has, the better it will be.
- Use Some Cling Wrap – When putting the ice cream back, take some cling wrap and stretch it over the container. This way, it makes a seal when you put the lid of the container back. It also prevents ice crystals from forming and can also prevent instances of freezer burn.
- Use a Tight Sealing Container– When placing the ice cream back, either make sure that the lid seals tightly or scoop out the remainder of the ice cream and pop it into an air-tight container. Make sure that there is no excess moisture or other contaminants.
By following these steps, you can ensure that the ice cream you have reaches its full shelf life. This ensures that you do not have to throw away anything.
Conclusion: Does Ice Cream Expire?
Ice cream does expire if it is not consumed within a month or two after purchasing. Moreover, it is possible to get food poisoning from expired ice cream, mainly due to bacterial food contamination.
Luckily, if you know the signs and also how to store ice cream properly, you can avoid this from happening and enjoy this delicious dessert without any worries!
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