Consumer Articles

Tips on Storing, Handling, and Serving Ice Cream

Date: May 19, 2009

Courtesy of the International Ice Cream Association

The International Ice Cream Association (IICA) offers some important suggestions on the proper handling and storage of ice cream and frozen desserts to help everyone enjoy America's favorite treat to the fullest. Ice cream is a perishable product and should be treated as such. When it is exposed to fluctuating temperatures above 10°F., it becomes subject to adverse changes in body, texture and flavor characteristics. Although individual manufacturers' recipes yield ice cream of varying body, consistency and flavor, all are subject to similar changes under like conditions.
Here are some tips to keep ice cream in its most delectable form.

At home:
  • Never allow ice cream to repeatedly soften and refreeze. When ice cream's small ice crystals melt and refreeze, they can turn into large, unpalatable lumps.
  • Ice cream is best when stored between -5 and 0°F.; it will be firm enough to hold its shape, but easy to dip between 6 and 10°F, the ideal serving temperature range. Store ice cream in the main part of the freezer, not in the door where it is subject to more fluctuating temperatures.
  • Don't store ice cream with other foods in the freezer that are uncovered; odors may penetrate ice cream and affect its flavor. 
In the store:
  • Make the ice cream aisle your last stop in the supermarket.
  • Watch the temperature of your grocer's freezer case. The temperature for ice cream products stored in your supermarket's freezer case should be no warmer than -20°F. If they are kept at their proper temperature, they will be thoroughly frozen and feel hard to the touch.
  • In an open top freezer case, always select ice cream and frozen dessert treats stored below the freezer line.
  • Put ice cream products in the separate basket of your grocery cart, or 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.
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.