Melted ice cream can be a real pain to deal with. Thankfully, whether it’s a cone, cup, pint, liter, or gallon, you can refreeze melted ice cream under the right conditions. Remember that the more ice cream there is in a container, the longer it’ll take to freeze.
You can refreeze a cup of ice cream within 30 minutes to an hour. A pint of ice cream will generally refreeze under 3 hours, and a liter can take 4-6 hours. However, a large gallon of ice cream might need to freeze overnight.
If your ice cream has gotten a little soft, there’s no need to panic; you can put it in the freezer, and it’ll be good as new. But watch out if your ice cream has been sitting around for a while. If it’s been melted for too long, then it could be dangerous to refreeze and eat it.
When It’s Safe To Refreeze Ice Cream
It’s safe to refreeze your ice cream if it’s kept cold or only partially melted. If your ice cream melts while it’s been sitting in the refrigerator, then it’s still okay to refreeze because it remains cold at a temperature under 40°F (4.44°C).
If your ice cream has gotten soft but is still cool, you can put it in the freezer for a few hours, and it’ll be okay.
Refreezing Partially Melted Ice Cream
The more ice cream you have in a container, the longer it’ll take to freeze. This freezing time is due to the ice cream’s mass, volume, and density. The greater the ice cream’s mass, the longer it’ll take to freeze it again thoroughly. Likewise, denser and larger tubs of ice cream take longer to melt in the first place.
If you’re refreezing ice cream that you purchased in a cup or cone, it’ll only take about half an hour to return it to its original consistency. That’s because the ice cream was softer and less dense, to begin with.
If you need to refreeze ice cream that got soft on the car ride home from the grocery store, it’ll take a little longer. You’ll also need to account for your freezer temperature. The colder your freezer, the quicker the ice cream will freeze.
Why You Shouldn’t Refreeze Completely Melted Ice Cream
There are several reasons why you should avoid eating ice cream that’s been sitting on your counter for hours on end.
Health Safety Reasons
You should throw away ice cream that has completely melted into a liquid if it melted outside the refrigerator. Ice cream that’s melted sitting at room temperature or hotter should immediately be tossed because it’s not safe to eat. Melted ice cream creates an environment for bacteria to snowball.
Ice cream is made from mostly milk and egg products, and bacteria such as listeria and salmonella are shared in those ingredients even when unopened and kept cold. Keeping the ice cream frozen inhibits the bacteria’s ability to multiply.
However, when ice cream reaches a temperature over 40°F (4.44°C), it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Salmonella and listeria are common causes of food poisoning, so refreezing your completely melted ice cream could make you sick.
Ice cream that has melted into a liquid changes chemical structure. It’s virtually impossible to restore melted ice cream to its original texture because the water structure in the ice crystals changes. The cell walls in the ice cream break down, the air in the ice cream evaporates, and the cells lose their moisture.
This breakdown causes the fat that was previously inside the cells to float to the top of the water. Putting the ice cream in the freezer after this point will simply freeze the ice cream in its current state. Without the air, the ice cream will primarily consist of ice, and it won’t have its previously creamy structure.
The more ice in the ice cream, the less flavor you’ll have. Refrozen ice cream will have larger ice crystals than its previous state. This means that the dessert’s flavor will be significantly watered down, while its aroma notably decreased. Therefore, for any foodie, eating refrozen ice cream after it has been left to melt completely won’t be an enjoyable experience.