There have been many occasions when the ice creams stored in your refrigerator melts during power cuts. And, once the power restores, the ice cream refreezes. I bet, you’ve eaten the refrozen ice cream, and said, “it didn’t taste good.” Even the texture and composition of the ‘once-a-lip-smacking-delicacy’ seem to be a lot different.
Food scientists have conducted many researches based on refrozen ice creams, and have found out that they not only taste bad, but are also harmful for your health. Want to know why? Here we’ve included the research findings in a logical order. But first up, you need to know the process behind the making of ice creams.
How is the ice cream made?
Ice cream, in its most basic form, is a special blend of fat, oils, water, and sugar that is churned till it freezes. It also contains salt, stabilizers, pieces of candy, as well as added flavours, such as vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry to make it tastier.
This mixture is then deep-frozen in a specially-designed ice-cream maker, which agitates the cream by using dashers and paddles. Liquid nitrogen or dry ice is also added to keep the ice crystals small. Once the mixture freezes perfectly, the output is a smooth, creamy-textured, and delectable ice cream.
Your ice cream gets its special texture and properties from three important elements—small air pockets, fat globules, and ice crystals. If you’ve ever tried your hands in ice cream making, you would know that cooling the cream along with churning is extremely important to ensure an even distribution of the cream mixture. If churned without cooling, the output would be simply butter and buttermilk. And if cooled without churning, you would get only frozen milk. So, as you churn the cream, air pockets are created, which then freezes to form an emulsion—which you call ice cream!
So, what happens when you refreeze melted ice cream?
Ice cream, as mentioned above, is a unique and even composition of various ingredients. However, when it melts, the whole integrity of the ice cream changes. The cell walls break, and the moisture leaches out. Unsurprisingly, the ice cream turns into a different structure altogether, leaving the fat globules floating above the water content. Now, when it refreezes, this disordered structure is what you get—making it not so tasty as before.
However, if you think that churning or blending the melted cream again and freezing it solves the problem, read on to find out another reason, why you need to avoid melted ice creams.
Why you shouldn’t eat defrosted ice cream?
Refreezing thawed ice cream is safe only if it is slightly melted, and has been kept under proper refrigeration. It is also important that it was not exposed to the outside environment. However, if it was almost melted outside the freezer, then you probably risk your health by eating it. One of the biggest risk is the rapid growth of bacteria.
Ice cream melts at approx. 31°F (-0.5°C), and when it does, harmful bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes grow and thrive in the sugary environment. Refreeze ice cream food poisoning and several other illnesses (some can even be fatal) have been reported in large numbers from around the globe. There are various instances of Listeria outbreaks in the recent times, surprisingly even in freezers and ice cream machines!
If you buy ice creams from local shops, you are more likely to come across cases where the ice creams have been refrozen. This is mostly due to the fact that many small shops do not have generators, and if there is a long power failure in your region, the ice creams in those shops would melt and refreeze when the power is restored.
While, you can’t conclude that all your local shops provide refrozen ice creams, you can do one thing—that is, to find out whether you are eating the real ice cream or the refrozen version of the ice cream, regardless of where you are eating from. Mostly, you can identify refrozen ice creams easily, as they would have developed larger, visible ice crystals. They would be harder than normal ice creams, bland in taste, and certainly lacking that tempting texture.
Make lip-smacking ice creams at home
Now that you know what happens when ice cream melts and refreezes, it is always better to enjoy ice creams that are fresh from the freezer, and take necessary measures while refreezing defrosted ice creams.
Looking to lead a healthy and organic lifestyle, but can’t resist eating ice creams? Instead of buying artificial-flavoured ice creams from shops, you can make your own healthy & mouth-watering ice creams at home.