Storing and Serving Ice Cream

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Ice cream is best stored as cold as possible, at 0°F/–18°C or below, to preserve its smoothness. The inevitable coarsening during storage is due to repeated partial thawings and freezings, which melt the smallest ice crystals completely and deposit their water molecules on ever fewer, ever larger crystals. The lower the storage temperature, the slower this coarsening process.
The ice cream surface suffers in two ways during storage: its fat absorbs odors from the rest of the freezer compartment, and can be damaged and go rancid when dried out by the freezer air. These problems can be prevented simply by pressing plastic wrap directly into the surface, being careful not to leave air pockets.