In the winter, it’s easy enough to keep your ice-cream cold. However, it’s crucial to know how to tell if ice cream has been re-frozen in summer. Warm cream is only good in intentional dessert recipes, but melted ice cream can be a serious health hazard. Moreover, twice frozen dairy isn’t the same. The churning process that makes your creamy treat doesn’t keep it that way when it melts. Once you freeze a second time, ice crystals start to form, and they stick together. The result is a grainy and not-so-delightful dairy dessert. Instead of risking gross textures and dangerously warmed dairy, it’s better to learn how to make ice cream at home. I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about re-frozen ice cream and share some important facts and tips as well. Stay safe, and only eat ice cream that was kept cold before you serve it. No one wants to get sick from their favorite chilly treat.
How can you tell if ice cream has been refrozen? You can tell ice cream has been refrozen by the texture. When the cream melts and then re-solidifies, ice crystals form inside the cream. These will give you a crusty, grainy, or otherwise not-smooth texture. While some people don’t mind, it can also be a warning sign. Ice cream that got too warm can harbor dangerous bacteria and even make you sick, so don’t eat that off-textured ice cream.
Is It Safe to Eat Ice Cream That Has Been Refrozen
If you get ice cream and you can tell it has been refrozen, should you eat it? Is it safe to eat refrozen ice cream? The ice particles are instantly recognizable as a texture issue, but other problems are less noticeable until it’s too late.
Assuming the ice cream refroze very quickly, you’ll be alright. However, if your creamy treat was out of the freezer and warmed up, you may be in serious danger. Unfortunately, ice cream is a superb breeding ground for bacteria such as E.coli.
According to The Conversations Dr. Amreen Bashir, “Ice cream melts fairly rapidly at room temperature, and the milky, sugary, liquid concoction is a perfect petri dish for bacteria like Listeria.” Numerous companies have had to do food recalls on ice cream because of outbreaks involving E.coli and Listeria. Unfortunately, not every instance of bacteria is widespread enough or caught soon enough to save you from a serious illness. Plus, most people don’t check the recalls until after they feel sick.
Since cream has protein in it and ice cream is filled with sugar, it’s a fantastic food source for dangerous bacteria. Listeria, in particular, will make you very ill. Worse still, Listeria can grow inside a freezing environment. All it needs is some cooling, and the outbreak is off and running. If you want to avoid nasty food poisoning and a potential trip to the hospital, don’t eat that re-frozen ice cream.
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Can I Refreeze Ice Cream That Has Been Left Out Overnight
Whether you can tell it’s been refrozen or not, most of us are loathe to toss delicious ice cream, even when we should. What if you’ve left your ice cream out all night? Can you still refreeze it when it’s melted? The answer isn’t as cut and dried as we might wish, but there are some general guidelines to be aware of.
First, you need to ask, what temperature is the room where your ice cream melted? If it was summertime or the heat was on then, you should unquestionably toss that treat. Any temp approaching room temperature is more likely to cause a dangerous bacterial outbreak. No cone is worth getting severely ill. Worst of all, you won’t know until a day later when the first symptoms of food poisoning typically start to show up.
Alternatively, when your ice cream barely melted because the area where it was stayed cold, you may be alright to refreeze. Keep in mind, re-frozen ice cream is never the best plan. You probably should toss that sweet treat. Still, it’s less likely that your ice cream has grown bacteria if the place it sat was colder.
Can You Refreeze Ice Cream That’s Been in the Fridge
We all make mistakes, and putting a container of ice cream in the fridge is one of those things a lot of people have accidentally done. While many sources recommend that you absolutely never refreeze ice cream for any reason, the refrigerator is already fairly cool. Depending on how high or low you’ve set your temperature, the back of your fridge may even keep things frozen, though it shouldn’t.
Commercially made ice cream has preservatives to stand a day or two in slightly warmer than freezing climates. Although it’s still a risk, you are less likely to see bacterial growth if your ice cream was in the fridge. Personally, I recommend making a fresh batch at home instead of taking a risk.
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Can You Refreeze Non-Dairy Ice Cream
No matter what kind of ice cream you buy, it will still be obvious if you refreeze it because the texture will change. That said, there’s a difference between vegan or non-dairy ice cream and regular cream-based dairy treats. Undoubtedly, there are different or even zero proteins in a non-dairy frozen treat.
As most vegetarians and vegans are well aware, there are plenty of non-animal proteins available. Unfortunately, there is still going to be sugar regardless of where that cream-like consistency comes from. Moreover, in some cases, like soy, you will find a protein. A single cup of soy milk has about seven grams of protein.
Tofu ice cream may have as much as four to eleven grams of proteins. Meanwhile, coconut milk has five and a half grams, and almond milk has around one and a half grams in eight ounces. Oat and hemp milk also have three or four grams of protein per serving, while regular cow milk would contain around nine. In short, some alt-milks have more protein than dairy, while others have less, but they all have sugars to feed that bacteria.
So, what if your ice cream has non-dairy milk and low or no sugar? Regrettably, there is little to no information available on how non-sugars act with bacteria as it relates to food poisoning. I suggest you avoid the risk since you don’t want to use your body as a test subject.
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Can You Refreeze Melted Unopened Ice Cream
When debating the relative merits of refreezing ice cream, there are other considerations as well. Yes, you’ll be able to tell it’s been refrozen, but what if it was never opened in the first place? Surely that seal will help with texture or keep out harmful bacteria, won’t it?
I wish I had great news, but I don’t. Thawed ice cream is thawed ice cream, no matter whether you opened it or not. In a factory, containers of cream and sugar, and other ingredients, are exposed to open air, if only as they get poured into the container. A few bacterial cells won’t cause you an issue, but you get sick when it thrives.
No matter how many extenuating circumstances you try to find, one thing remains constant. It would be best if you never refroze thawed ice cream. A little melt on the ride home from a store is one thing, but fully melted ice cream that has warmed up should not get frozen again.
There’s nothing worse than the feeling when you wake up and there in the fridge or on your counter is the ice-cream you wanted. Ice cream soup is funny and delightful when you’re a kid, but it sort of ruins the fun when you find a room temperature bucket, but you wanted a cone. Worse still, that room temperature sugary cream is now wasted.
You should never re-freeze thawed ice cream. Since it’s a dairy product and meant to be kept frozen, you can end up sick with food poisoning when you re-freeze. Even if you get ‘lucky’ and it doesn’t make you ill, it will still be less desirable. Although it seems different, non-dairy ice cream is also a danger when it melts. Make fresh ice cream instead.
Re-frozen ice cream has large ice crystals in it, which change the texture. If it got a little melty on the car ride home in the summer, you’re okay but fully thawed, and re-frozen dairy treats are no good for you. Make a fresh batch instead.