Three scoops of soft strawberry ice cream with wafers and fresh strawberries on a plate
5 min. read

How to keep your ice cream soft and scoopable in the freezer

It’s the peak of summer and the sun is blazing. On a scorching hot day like this, it’s time to crack open that pot of ice cream nestled in the freezer. But alas – nothing is more disappointing than digging your spoon in and realising it has become the victim of freezer burn.

So, exactly how can you keep ice cream soft in the freezer? In this article, we explain what causes ice cream to crystallise, before taking your through must-know hacks for ensuring your icy treats stay smooth and scoopable all year round.

Little girl bending spoon trying to eat hard ice cream

What is freezer burn?

Freezer burn is a type of food damage caused by moisture loss and air exposure of frozen foods. Signs include discolouration, change in texture and the appearance of ice crystals. When ice cream is afflicted, it usually causes crunchy crystals to form on the top of the ice cream surface. This crystallisation can make the ice cream less visually appealing, not to mention it can also spoil the smooth, creamy taste of your treat.

Why does my ice cream become crystallised?

Ice cream crystallisation occurs when the moisture in the air meets the frozen food. This moisture can then refreeze on the ice cream’s surface, forming these telltale freezer burn crystals we’ve come to dread. Repeatedly taking the ice cream out to thaw a little, before putting the partially melted ice cream back in the freezer can exacerbate the problem of freezer burn.

Is hard ice cream caused by a problem with my freezer?

The key to preserving the safety of your food is ensuring the freezer is cold enough. If your freezer seems to be having issues maintaining a constant temperature or not cold enough, then it may be suffering from internal problems. This could be due to a faulty thermostat or a malfunctioning refrigerant system. It goes without saying that temperature problems in a freezer can potentially be very dangerous and compromise the quality and safety of your food. Suspected issues should be checked out immediately by a specialist in appliance repair.

How can I make ice cream softer?

If you’re working up a sweat scooping your ice cream, or plagued by crystallisation, read on. Prevent freezer burn and keep ice cream nice and soft with these handy hacks and tips:

  • Turn it upside down: This hack is best for ice cream that’s already been opened, as partially melted ice-cream is most susceptible to freezer burn. Make sure your lid is placed firmly back on so nothing dribbles, before turning the ice cream tub upside down and placing it back in the freezer. Any runny bits of ice cream will collect on the lid instead, rather than forming into crystals on top of the ice cream.
  • Cover it up: Once you’ve cracked open the tub, place a piece of parchment paper, cling film or similar over the ice cream surface. This will create a protective layer over the ice cream to protect it from air exposure. You could also put the whole tub in a sealable freezer bag too, for added protection.
  • Eat it quickly: Simply put, the longer something is in your freezer, the bigger the chance it has of developing freezer burn. So, instead of leaving an opened tub in the freezer for months on end, it’s best to eat the ice cream as quickly as possible – what a shame.
  • Keep it cold: Obviously unless your freezer is faulty, it should already be cold. But it’s worth noting some areas are colder than others, namely towards the back of the freezer – so you may wish to move it there. Also, don’t leave your ice cream out of the freezer for any longer than you have to. As mentioned previously, if you suspect the temperature of your freezer is off or possesses a fault, it’s vital to get a professional to rectify the problem.
  • Stay away from the microwave: It may be tempting to thaw ice cream by popping the tub in the microwave – but this is the worst thing you can do, especially if you aren’t planning on eating the whole tub that day. Using a microwave will cause the entire tub to become soft, meaning that the remaining ice cream put back in the freezer is more likely to crystallise.
  • What if it’s homemade? If you like to exercise your culinary skills by making homemade ice cream, make sure to churn the mixture very quickly. The quicker you churn it, the less hard it will become when frozen – rewarding you with a softer, tastier result.

Three scoops of soft strawberry ice cream with wafers and fresh strawberries on a plate

To see more tips for keeping ice cream soft and freezer-burn free, check out Ben & Jerry’s full guide. We hope you found these hacks useful, and long may your ice cream be scoopable!

If your freezer is giving you trouble, have the experts at Domex take a look. We’re award-winning appliance repair specialists serving the whole London area as well as the South East. Thanks to swift diagnosis and repair of any appliance, your freezer can be back in top working order in no time at all. Give us a call today to discuss your issue on 0330 210 2100 – we don’t charge call-out fees.

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