Does Ice Cream Go Bad? What You Need To Know!

Quick Answer: Does Ice Cream Go Bad? Ice cream, like all dairy products, can go bad, even though it is kept frozen! The main sign that ice cream has gone bad is if small shard-like crystals form on the packaging or the ice cream itself – an indicator that bacteria is growing. If you notice this on your ice cream, don’t risk it!

Do you love ice cream? That might be a silly question. But one thing you might not realize is that ice cream does in fact have a shelf life.

This is a quick but complete guide on ice cream, including what you need to know about the different types of ice cream, the signs that it has gone bad, and the best way to store ice cream in the freezer.

With that said, let’s get right into it.

Does Ice Cream Go Bad? What You Need To Know!

How Is Ice Cream Made?

Traditional ice cream produced from cow milk is made over a step-by-step process involving blending the base ingredients, pasteurization and homogenization, aging and freezing, and then adding the final flavors and ingredients before packaging the final product.

There are a variety of base ingredients used to make ice cream, but generally these include a dairy source such as milk and cream, water, air, stabilizers and emulsifiers, as well as sweeteners and other flavorings. 

Ice cream dates back hundreds of years, and is now one of the most popular snacks and desserts in the world, with many different types, flavors, and uses as a complementary ingredient in desserts and milkshakes, as well as being a topping or filling.

The Different Types Of Ice Cream

Ice cream comes in many different types, each with its own consistency and composition.

This doesn’t include the fact that ice cream comes in a variety of flavors, with individual ingredients and toppings that make each ice cream unique – such as nuts, fruit, chocolate chips, marshmallows, sweets, sauces, and more.

Ice cream can be consumed from a tub or as an ice cream bar. It can also form part of a dessert, such as a cake, sandwich, sundae, or drink.

Non-dairy ice cream has even become a popular alternative to dairy ice cream, using milk made from almonds, soy, coconuts, or oats.

Is Ice Cream Healthy?

Ice cream is a dessert or snack that’s typically sweetened, so most types of ice cream are not considered healthy.

Ice cream is generally high in fat and sugar (and other artificial sweeteners), and therefore high in calories, so it should be consumed in moderation.

Despite that, it goes without saying that not all ice cream is made the same or with the same ingredients.

Some ice cream is healthier than others, especially if it is made without sweeteners and other high-calorie ingredients.

Does Ice Cream Go Bad?

Does Ice Cream Go Bad?

Since ice cream is kept in the freezer, not many people realize that ice cream can go bad over time. Most ice cream is made from dairy, after all, which is well-known to have a limited shelf life.

This makes it important to know when the ice cream has gone bad!

Eating ice cream that has gone bad without realizing it can result in stomach discomfort and pain (stomach cramps), vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes nausea. This is due to the bacteria that forms on spoiled ice cream.

How Long Does Ice Cream Last?

In general, an opened tub of ice cream can last between one and two months in the freezer before going bad.

As for unopened ice cream, this can last up to two or three months in a suitable freezer kept at the optimal temperature.

Despite that, ice cream comes in many different types with various ingredients, such as fruits, nuts, and other toppings.

This makes it important to check the date on the packaging to have the best idea for how it should be stored and when it should be consumed.

The Signs That Ice Cream Has Gone Bad

The easiest way to tell if ice cream has gone bad is when small, shard-like ice crystals start to form and appear.

This can occur on the lid or packaging of the ice cream (on the inside and on the outside), as well as on the ice cream itself. On the whole, this means that bacteria has started to grow.

Other signs can be a rancid taste or smell, however these are harder to tell – especially since ice cream can have a strong flavor.

Due to this, it’s important to keep an eye out for ice crystal formation.

These can be removed (scraped off the ice cream), but it’s generally not recommended to consume the ice cream once these crystals have started to appear.

The Best Way To Store Ice Cream 

Ice cream should always be kept frozen in a freezer, needless to say! But to increase its shelf life, make sure your freezer is set to a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit (or -18 degrees celsius).

It’s also recommended to keep your ice cream at the back of the freezer where it is usually coldest.

Any ice cream that you keep in your freezer should be well-sealed (kept in the packaging or tightly resealed in a container airtight bag) to prevent as much exposure to oxygen as possible.

This will reduce the possibility of crystals forming, which is a general sign of bacteria growth.


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