You've Been Storing Ice Cream Wrong Your Entire Life

Let's say that you've got a brand spanking new carton of ice cream in your freezer, and by some miracle, you don't actually polish the entire thing off in one sitting. Stranger things have happened, right? So you stick it back into the freezer, and to your utter disappointment, the next time you peel the lid off that carton you're faced with an unappealing layer of ice crystals. Where did you go wrong? Surprisingly enough, there's a right way to store your ice cream to prevent freezer burn, and you're probably not doing it. (And no, unfortunately the recommended solution is not eating the entire carton in one fell swoop — though if that's what you want to do, we don't blame you one bit.)

Like anything you throw into the freezer, you likely put that carton of ice cream in right-side-up. That's the logical thing to do, after all, but that's precisely the point at which things go awry. That's because during the time that the ice cream is spent out of the freezer, it starts to melt. The top of the container becomes the most melty since it's the most exposed to air, and that top layer of melted ice cream equals freezer burn once it's spent some time back in the freezer. Why? Because, according to Real Simple, when the evaporated water in the melty ice cream refreezes it forms those undesirable ice crystals, and when it does so in a carton of right-side-up ice cream, that top layer becomes freezer burned. Now, freezer burned food is perfectly safe to eat, but it definitely doesn't taste as good and it can alter the food's texture — if you've ever dug into a bowl of freezer-burned ice cream, you know it's not something to strive for. That's why, to circumvent freezer burn, you need to turn those pints of ice cream upside down.

By storing the cartons upside down in the freezer, you allow any melty ice cream to drip down onto the lid where it can refreeze into ice crystals 'til the cows come home without affecting the taste and texture of your frozen dessert. Genius, right? Next time you're in the mood for ice cream, either scrape the lid clean or ignore it — the unadulterated ice cream in the carton is all you care about anyway.

Storage position aside, you also want to make sure you're mitigating the time the ice cream is out of the freezer. The Kitchn recommends that rather than eating from the carton — which, yes, we know is heavenly — you take a scoop and get that thing back into the deep-freeze for the ice cream's sake. The less time it has to warm up, the less time it has to melt, and less melting means less freezer burn in the long run. It's also important to check that your freezer's temperature is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, as proper freezing is essential to preventing the dreaded burn.

If you're not buying the upside-down storage trick, there is one more thing you can do to prevent freezer burn on your half-eaten ice cream: Place a piece of wax paper against it — not across the rim of the carton, but directly onto the ice cream itself — to prevent air from evaporating the moisture inside. And if you're transferring homemade ice cream from machine to storage container? Make sure you use the smallest vessel possible, says Serious Eats, and also ensure that the container provides the most surface area to volume ratio. A container that's wide and flat means the ice cream will completely freeze long before one that's compact and boxy, and a quicker freeze staves off the formation of those evil ice crystals. 

Upside-down ice cream isn't the only life hack that hinges on flipping the script from a storage standpoint. It works for natural peanut butter, too. You know the mess you typically make trying to stir the oil that floats to the top of the nut butter? That's a thing of the past when you flip the jar upside down and let gravity do the work for you — your natural peanut butter will be ready to spread on a PB&J at a moment's notice. 

Who knew the solution to so many of life's annoyances was simply turning a container upside down? Your ice cream game and your natural peanut butter game has never been more on point. You're welcome.