There’s nothing worse than gearing up to make a massive sundae—only to find that your ice cream is freezer burned and crystallized. While freezer-burned ice cream isn’t technically bad, it’s not exactly appetizing. It may feel like the universe has unjustly punished you, but it turns out you might’ve brought that burn on yourself, according to Ben & Jerry’s helpful guide to storing ice cream.
Ben & Jerry’s explains that ice evaporates over time, so while your ice cream sits in the freezer, moisture leaves it and refreezes with moist, ambient air on the surface of your precious pint. The good news is that there are a few ways to avoid freezer burn altogether. Here’s how to prevent freezer burn from destroying your dessert.
1. Make sure your freezer is cold enough.
The best freezer temperature for ice cream is under 0°F; the colder it's kept, the longer it’ll last. Set your freezer to its coldest setting or get a freezer thermometer. To soften it before serving, just leave the ice cream on the counter for a few minutes instead of microwaving; that would change the ice cream’s structure.
2. Store it all the way in the back.
This part of your freezer is harder for warm air to penetrate every time you swing the freezer door open.
3. Slice, don’t scoop.
The more time you spend scooping, the more melted your ice cream can become. Pop it half-soft in the freezer and you’ve got a recipe for freezer burn. Instead of scooping, slice the ice cream—paper container and all— with a large serrated knife so it doesn’t have a chance to turn liquidy. If the top of your ice cream is already freezer burned, slice the top layer off and boom, it's good as new.
4. Wrap it up.
Flatten a layer of wax paper, parchment or plastic wrap against the ice cream’s surface after scooping what you’re going to eat, then put the lid on and store. This eliminates air exposure. You can even keep pints in airtight freezer bags for more protection.
5. Store the ice cream upside-down.
Flipping partially melted ice cream over in its container will cause the liquid to drip onto the lid instead of crystallize on top of the ice cream. Store it on a small plate if you’re worried about leaks.
6. Eat it before it goes bad.
In the end, freezer burn will always win if ice cream is left in there long enough. So, devour it before nature can take its course. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.