MELT THEIR HEARTS, NOT THEIR ICE CREAM : Tips for choosing, transporting, storing, and serving ice cream.
Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of really looking forward to enjoying your favourite ice cream only to find that the texture is strange and sandy or that your ice cream shrunk to the bottom of the container with liquid that formed at the bottom? This is because the cold chain of your ice cream was not maintained. Because ice cream is a frozen dessert, it is very important that you choose, transport, store and serve it appropriately otherwise it will melt into an unattractive mess.
Choosing your ice cream:
- Make the ice cream aisle your last stop during your trip to the supermarket.
- Check the temperature of the supermarket freezer. The optimum temperature is (-18°C) and colder. The temperature in the supermarket’s freezer should not be above -17°C. If kept at a proper temperature, ice cream will be thoroughly frozen and will feel hard to the touch. If the product is soft, you may wish to bring it to the attention of the shop attendants.
- In an open top freezer, always select ice cream stored below the freezer line.
- Put ice cream products in the separate section of your shopping trolley, or place on top of other groceries.
- Make the supermarket your last stop before going home. This will ensure that your ice cream does not sit in a warm car while you are making other stops.
Feel your way to the best ice cream!
Your hands can help you choose the best quality of ice cream when you are instore and cannot open the sealed ice cream container.
- Ice cream that is well frozen and in good condition will feel firm and hard to touch
- Ice cream that has melted and refrozen and has a sandy texture will often yield and feel crunchy when you squeeze the box.
- Ice cream that has shrunk will leave space that you will be able to feel as you squeeze the box
Transporting your ice cream:
- As soon as you have bought your ice cream – Place it quickly in insulated freezer bags inside your cooler box or bag for added insulation. The double layer keeps it much colder while you transport it home.
- If driving, do not place cooler bag in the boot of the car, try keep the cooler bag in the shade in the car.
- If you don’t have a cooler bag, added insulation can be provided by placing your ice cream in a small cardboard box (the best type of cardboard box to use is the one made from corrugated cardboard sheets). The ice cream will still need to be rushed to a freezer as it will melt after extended time outside of a freezer.
Storing your ice cream:
- Your freezer should be set at between -25°C and -18°C
- Place your ice cream container in a plastic bag before putting it in the freezer (and squeeze out all the air before tying or closing the bag). This will keep your ice cream frozen but soft enough to scoop immediately that you take it out of the freezer, so that you don’t need to take the ice cream out of the freezer many minutes before you serve it. This means that there will be less likelihood that the ice cream will separate and form that hard ice layer along the edge and at the bottom, as it remains frozen at all times. Freezer burn happens when air hits frozen food, so you will avoid this happening by adding an extra layer of insulation. An added bonus? The plastic bag also keeps your ice cream from absorbing that nasty freezer smell that affects the taste of the ice cream.
- Store ice cream in the main part of the freezer. Do not store ice cream in the freezer door, where ice cream can be subject to more fluctuating temperatures since the door is repeatedly open and shut.
- Keep the ice cream container lid tightly closed when storing in the freezer to reduce the formation of ice crystals.
- Do not store ice cream alongside uncovered foods; odours may penetrate the ice cream and affect its flavour.
Serving your ice cream:
- When serving, dunk your ice cream scoop or spoon in warm water before you go in for the kill. It’ll warm the ice cream just enough to create the perfect moment of joy.
- Do not allow ice cream to repeatedly soften and re-freeze. When ice cream’s small ice crystals melt and refreeze the liquid and solid portions of the ice cream separate and cause a ‘sandy’ mouth feeling.
- Put the ice cream back in the freezer immediately after scooping.
Signs that your ice cream was exposed to heat:
- Shrinking ice cream
An apparent shrinkage in ice cream is not normal but is one of the signs that the ice cream has been heat shocked; that is, it has been subjected to above optimum temperatures that caused it to slow melt and release the air that is whipped into liquid ice cream during production to make it light and smooth. This occurs when the cold chain is interrupted. Kefalos/Cortina ice cream must be maintained at a temperature of less than or equal to -25°C, and if is removed from cold chain (left at the tills or on the shopping trolleys) it needs to be replaced in the cold as soon as possible before the quality of product is compromised.
- Sandy textured ice cream
Ice cream, when it melts, separates into its solid and liquid constituents. When it has melted slightly and then refrozen it forms tiny ice crystals which you will experience as a sandy mouth feel. When the melting is substantial the liquid sinks to the bottom and can refreeze as a solid layer of ice. This can also happen when the ice cream is taken out of the freezer so that it softens slightly so it can be easily scooped. If it is left out for too long repeatedly, especially during our hot African summers, quality can definitely be compromised.
- Strange taste
If ice cream is allowed to remain out of the freezer too long and melts the same souring process that affects fresh milk can cause your ice cream to have a strange sour taste. To avoid this, it is important to keep ice cream frozen at least the recommended temperature of -25°C
By following these simple suggestions, you can ensure that your ice cream will remain smooth, creamy, and delicious!