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Why You Should Eat Your Ice Cream (or Frozen Custard) Right Away

Mitch Teich

Many of us find ourselves at a frozen custard stand or an ice cream shop on a summer weekend, but few of us give much thought to what goes into making the stuff in our cones. Bill Klein is different. 

Klein is the plant manager for the Babcock Dairy Plant at UW-Madison, which trains many of the people who make a living in ice cream, and the dairy world at large.

READ: What Makes Milwaukee's Frozen Custard Scene Special?

He says that when it comes to eating custard or ice cream, the fresh stuff is always better. But why? 

The short answer: ice crystals. "So when you think of soft serve coming out of the machine, it's got X amount of ice crystals in it and those ice crystals are a certain length in size. The quality of that ice cream at that point - whether it's soft serve or not - the quality of that ice cream is at its best. It only goes downhill from there," Klein explains. 

The longer ice cream or custard sits around, the longer the ice crystals get, which alters the way it tastes. "The key is to keep those things as small as possible and that's what makes it really smooth and creamy feeling," says Klein. 

While many custard shops offer takeaway pints, Klein says it's important to make sure it doesn't sit around too long. Waiting a week or two will cause the quality to degrade. "Ice cream is made to be eaten, not stored. So if you take it home you better hurry up and eat it in the first day or so," he cautions. 

Help us shape our Full Plateseries, what questions do you have about food and its production?