What is the best way to store homemade ice cream?

  • Posted by: shihwe
  • July 23, 2014


Suzy B. July 24, 2014
Freezing and Shelf Life

Basically you decant your ice cream mixture into a freezer proof dish and put it in the freezer till frozen. That will work, of course, but here are a few suggestions which might make it work even better.

Freezing the ice cream quickly results in a smoother texture as fewer ice crystals form. It helps, therefore, to have your ingredients very cold before mixing and to chill your bowl and whisk. Shallow containers also speed up freezing.
Use a suitable container; you want something freezer proof that conducts heat (or in this case cold) well and is, perhaps, attractive to look at if you intend to serve straight from the dish. Obviously square or rectangular containers are better than round for ergonomic storing, although if you are intending to serve a bombe or other fancy moulded ice cream then shallow and rectangular go out the window in favour of beautiful.

There’s some excellent silicone bake ware on the market these days. Lots of different and interesting shapes and ice cream enhancing colours and, being flexible, it is easy to turn ices out without damaging them.

Make sure there is a little “headroom” above the surface of the ice cream – it will expand slightly as it freezes.

Press a piece of cling film directly on top of the ice cream, right out to the edges, before putting the lid on. This is to ensure that it does not pick up any other flavours drifting about in the freezer, so that the ice cream doesn’t dry out and also to stop ice crystals forming on the surface. If you serve only part of your ice cream re-press the cling film against all its exposed areas before returning to the freezer.

As a general, and not difficult to keep, rule homemade ice cream is better eaten sooner rather than later although it does need a few hours after freezing for the flavours to meld.

Unlike commercial ice cream these recipes contains no stabilisers so don’t re-freeze and try to avoid fluctuating temperatures in the freezer as this can cause ice crystals.

To my mind the perfect serving temperature for ice cream is 0˚F / -18˚C although it is probably a good idea to store it a little colder and maybe do a smidge of tempering before serving.

The above taken directly from my book!
Annaliese July 23, 2014
Just as the previous response, be sure to limit headspace to prevent drying (freezer burn). Also limit temperature abuse, so if possible, pack the ice cream in small containers-even consider single-serve if you want to really preserve the smooth texture. Unfortunately, since most home ice cream makers and methods cannot sufficiently sub-cool the ice cream mix below the freezing point of water (i.e. by using dry ice another means), few and large ice crystal nuclei proliferate, which then grow and grow as the ice cream ages in order to satisfy system equilibrium. There are many processes in which the ice crystals grow (Ostwald ripening, fusion, etc), but regardless of the process, this translates into ice crystals larger than the 10ish um (micron) threshold for which we can sense texture on our tongues. So simply put, eat that stuff fast, fast, fast! You may also put some inclusions (i.e. chunks!) in order to "distract" your tongue from potentially larger ice crystals. And note, please do not assume that adding starches or hydrcolloids (xanthan gum, guar gum, carageenan) will suppress the ice crystal growth. It has been proven by reputable studies by food scientists to no significantly impact crystal growth, however, may impact partial coalescence of fat, which in turn could impact mouthfeel in a different way.
shihwe July 23, 2014
thanks for sharing the science and additional tips, @Annaliese! I try to stay away from gums and carageenan, anyhow. The take-home message seems to be, make often, eat quickly ;-)
HalfPint July 23, 2014
In an air-tight container with aluminum foil or plastic wrap right on the exposed surface. I also try to finish it within a week, to enjoy the flavor at its peak.
shihwe July 23, 2014
thanks, @HalfPint!
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