Can Ice Cream Get Moldy and How to Tell if it is Bad?

If you ask my Mom, she will tell you that even as a young girl, I was somewhat obsessed with ice cream. I just love the texture, the chill, and the flavors. Whether it’s mint chip or cookie dough, I’ve always been a fan. In fact, I eat ice cream at least once a week!

One of the biggest pros of ice cream is that it’s kept in the freezer. This provides that delightful coldness on a hot summer day while also extending the lifespan of this notorious treat. However, this leads people to believe ice cream won’t go rancid or develop mold – but that’s untrue.

Ice cream can develop mold and go bad over time. Although it lasts a good while, it doesn’t last forever. The issue is that mold can be incredibly hard to spot on ice cream. It’s not like a piece of bread or cheese with noticeable fuzzy discoloration.

Knowing how to spot mold or other signs of ice cream spoilage is essential to your health.

Let’s discuss.

Can Ice Cream Get Moldy?

Most people are under the impression that ice cream does not mold because it is kept in the freezer. And, if you’re someone who knows anything about mold, you know that mold loves a moist and warm environment – not exactly the setting ice cream provides. 

However, ice cream can get moldy. It’s more likely to occur with an opened box of ice cream, especially if it’s been left at room temperature for more than two hours before being placed back inside the freezer.

Mold does not appear the same as mold on bread or other food items, though. Ice cream mold tends to appear gooey with tiny ice shards strewn throughout. So, don’t look for discoloration or fuzziness. Rather, look for a change in texture. It won’t be an appetizing appearance.

How to Tell if Ice Cream Has Gone Bad

Ice cream might have a fairly long shelf life in the freezer, but it will go bad over time – just like anything else you’re storing in the freezer. It can be challenging to tell when it’s gone bad, though. You should look for these three key indicators of spoilage. 

1. Ice Shards

Ever heard of freezer burn? While freezer-burned foods, like ice cream, aren’t classified as being unsafe to eat, the quality will have deteriorated so much that you might not want to eat it, to begin with.

Freezer burn represents itself as tiny ice shards located on the top of the ice cream and the lid. If you notice these shards, I recommend tossing them. It simply won’t have the same desirable flavor or texture as it did in the beginning, especially if the freezer burn is substantial.

Note: Some people say it’s a-okay to remove the ice shards and eat the “fresh” ice cream underneath. While this is technically deemed safe, it won’t be as good. I’d opt for a fresh pint of ice cream!

2. Change in Texture

Pay extra close attention to your ice cream. If it’s anything but smooth and creamy, it’s gone bad. This is especially true if you notice your ice cream has begun to undertake a gooey, goopy, or slimy appearance. Gross!

3. Odd Smell

Like any other food item in your kitchen, you can spot spoilage with your nose. Go ahead and smell your ice cream. Does it smell sweet and inviting or musty and stale? If the smell is “off” in any way, consider buying fresh ice cream or making your own

How Long Does Ice Cream Last in the Freezer?

Ice cream will last a long time in a freezer at or below 0F, but the longevity changes from unoepend to opened packages and whether it’s store-bought or homemade.

Unopened ice cream2-3 months past “best by” date
Opened ice cream2-4 months
Homemade ice cream2 weeks

How to Store Ice Cream

Are you storing your ice cream properly? While some might think it’s OK to toss it into the freezer and call it a day, proper storage will ensure that you prolong the lifespan of your ice cream and deter ice crystals from forming.

Store in the Freezer

Okay, I know what you’re thinking – “Duh, Michelle!” While it’s obvious you should store your ice cream in the freezer, I wanted to share a few tips to keep your ice cream in tip-top shape while it’s in there.

  • Keep the freezer at 0F or below. Honestly, the lower the temperature, the better. If you can go to -10F, do it!
  • Do not store it in the side door. Do not store your ice cream in the side door (if your freezer has one). This location struggles with the most temperature changes, which could ruin your ice cream.
  • Store it in the back of your freezer. Remember – it’s all about deterring temperature changes. The back of the freezer is the best spot.
  • Keep the door closed as much as possible. You don’t want to let too much heat in and change the temp!
  • Don’t put warm items in the freezer. Cool everything on the counter or in the freezer before putting it in the freezer.

Wrap Before Storing

Whether you purchased store-bought ice cream or made your own, you should always wrap the container with plastic wrap before putting the lid on. This will act as an added barrier to keep air and moisture out while locking in flavor and quality.

Use an Airtight Container (Homemade)

Homemade ice cream is the bomb dot com (do people still say that?). But it’s more likely to go rancid due to the lack of preservatives. Make sure you’re storing your ice cream in an airtight container. Wrap the top of the container before applying the lid and storing it.

Will Old Ice Cream Make You Sick?

Unfortunately, eating anything moldy can make you sick. Most people who experience symptoms will have nausea, vomiting, stomachache, and diarrhea. Sometimes, more severe symptoms can occur, which will need to be diagnosed and treated by a professional.

FAQs

As much as we wished ice cream lasted forever, it doesn’t. Ice cream will go bad over time, and consuming it could be dangerous to your health. If you want to learn more, check out these excellent FAQs.

Can ice cream go bad in the fridge?

Ice cream will go bad in the fridge relatively quickly. It’s freezer food and should be stored at temperatures below 0F. I would not recommend trying to store ice cream in the fridge!

Why is my ice cream slimy?

Sliminess on your ice cream is a clear indicator that it has gone rancid. Throw it out ASAP.

Can you get food poisoning from refrozen ice cream?

You can get food poisoning from refrozen ice cream. So, if your ice cream is left on the counter for more than two hours, I would not recommend re-freezing it.

Final Words

Surprisingly enough, ice cream can and will get moldy over time, especially if it’s left out at room temperature for longer than two hours and re-frozen. The signs include sliminess, ice shards, gooeyness, and an odd smell.

Have you ever accidentally eaten old ice cream? What happened?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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