5 Typical Sweet Treats and Their Shelf Life

5 sweet treats and their shelf life

For any cold dessert enthusiast, here is a list of 5 typical sweet treats and their shelf life.


This term is used to refer to any culinary emulsification of egg yolks, milk/cream and sugar. Other variations include gelatin or cornstarch for thickening.

The star ingredients – eggs, are what gives the custard its signature thick consistency. This is achieved by continuously heating the mixture on low heat, while stirring to avoid curdling.

You may be mistaken to think that custard is a novel culinary creation. However, it has existed for thousands of years.

Ancient Romans take credit for discovering the use of coagulated eggs. Since then, custard has evolved and is wholeheartedly embraced.

Simple recipes you can try with custard include: caramel custard, custard pie, trifles and custard cookie cups.

How long does custard last? (In the fridge)

Custard is highly perishable due to eggs and milk. Whether freshly made or store-bought, how you store it determines how long you’ll use it.

Refrigerate custard at 40° or below to prevent bacteria growth. Well refrigerated custard keeps well for 1 week.

Shelf life of custard (at room temperature)

Never leave custard at room temperature. If you have a freshly homemade one, use on the same day.

How long does frozen custard last?

Freezing is also not ideal as it can cause separation. If you have to freeze homemade custard, freeze as soon as it has cooled. Use airtight containers and pack to the brim. Use within 2 weeks.

Shelf life of custard powder/mix (unopened)

Custard powder has a fairly long shelf life. The lack of moisture preserves it. Store unopened custard powder or mix in the pantry, away from direct heat and moisture. It keeps well for 1 month.

How long does opened custard powder/mix last?

Once opened, always refrigerate and seal the lid tightly. For store-bought custard, use within 1 week.

Ice Cream

This commonplace dessert is a staple in most, if not all households and dessert menus. Ice cream has been at the forefront in providing us with a cool relief.

The first ice cream parlor is attributed to an Italian, Giovanni Bosio. However, other forms of ice cream inventions were being enjoyed prior to that. A basic ice cream is a mixture of either milk or cream plus a sweetener.

In Italy, more cream is used as opposed to milk, resulting in what is commonly known as gelato. Other additions include flavorings, fruit purees, preservatives as well as food colorings. With homemade varieties, you can omit preservatives.

Ice cream is pleasantly delicious on its own. You can also scoop it on cookies, pies or cakes.

How long does ice cream last? (In the fridge)

Ice cream melts considerably fast at high temperatures. However, you can leave it to thaw in the fridge. This is best done overnight, so that you consume it the next day. For long term storage, avoid refrigerating to maintain the hard consistency.

Shelf life of frozen ice cream (homemade and store-bought)

Freezing is the most ideal storage condition for ice cream. Moreover, the temperature level goes a long way.

Unlike other foods, ice cream keeps well in below zero temperatures – even as low as -25°C.  For instance, ice cream stored in such a temperature keeps well for up to 9 months.

Store-bought ice cream has added preservatives for a longer shelf life.

How long does ice cream last? (at room temperature)

Leaving ice cream at room temperature means – you are planning to use it on the same day. Other than that, avoid it all costs.

Frozen Yogurt

As its name suggests, this is yogurt that is simply spread on a baking sheet and frozen. You can use any type of yogurt.

For extra oomph, you can sprinkle chopped fruits, nuts, seeds or colorful sprinkles. Apart from spreading it on a sheet, you can also put in popsicle molds.

This frozen delight became popularized in the late 1970s.

Shelf life of homemade and commercially frozen yogurt (in the freezer)

Like its name, frozen yogurt is ideal for freezing. Commercially frozen yogurt lasts up to 4 months, whereas homemade keeps well for 2-3 months. Unopened tins keep longer, up to 8 months.

Out of the 5 typical sweet treats and their shelf life, frozen yogurt is not ideal for other storage conditions.


These sweet treats conjure memories of childhood – toasting marshmallows on bonfires or campfires with friends or family.

Roasting marshmallows on fire transforms them into another popular treat, s’mores. The name ‘marshmallows’ can send your mind spinning.

What we consume nowadays is a far cry from the initial ones.

Ancient Egyptians are attributed to making marshmallows. They used extractions from the mallow plant, which wildly grew in marshes – hence the name marshmallows.

Later on, industrial manufacturing of marshmallows still used the mallow root sap, but mixed it with sugar and eggs.

Nowadays, you can make simple variations by mixing sugar, water and gelatin. Marshmallows are a wonderful treat when topped on hot beverages like hot chocolate.

Other creative ways you can use them include roasting them and sandwiching between cookies. You can also make puffs as well as fold them into baked products.

How long do store-bought marshmallows last? (in the pantry)

Marshmallows keep well in the pantry. Commercially made ones come with a best before date.

Unopened ones keep well for up to 8 months. This is possible if you store them away from direct heat, light, air and moisture. Air causes hardness.

You can also keep opened bags in the pantry. However, always seal well after each use. This prevents exposure to contaminants. It also buffers the marshmallows against strong odors. Use within 4 months.

As for homemade marshmallows, store them in airtight containers. They have a shorter shelf life in the pantry – 3 weeks at best.

Shelf life of frozen marshmallows

Freezing is ideal for marshmallows. Unopened bags keep well for 4 months. As for homemade, freeze in small batches and consume within 3 months.


This frozen treat boasts of being one of the oldest. It was a popular snack for ancients Asians, Persians and Romans.

Sorbet is a simple connotation of fruit and sweeteners. Other variations make use of flavorings. You can either make it using fruit puree or juice.

The mixture is frozen until it sets. Enjoy it as it is or incorporate in dessert sandwich bars or fillings.

In most eateries, sorbet is used as a palette cleanser – served in between meals.

How long does homemade sorbet last? (in the freezer)

Sorbet keeps well in a frozen state. When freezing homemade sorbet, use airtight, heavy duty storage. Freeze small batches and consume within 1 month.

Shelf life of store-bought sorbet

Commercial sorbet has a fairly long shelf life. This is due to added preservatives.

Opened tins of commercial sorbet keep well for 4 months.

Unopened ones last longer, up to 8 months.

Spoilage Indicators

All the 5 sweet treats are perishable. How can you identify spoilage? Here are a few indicators:

  • Separation of contents is a sign of overstayed custard.
  • Mold growth screams spoilage – discard right away!
  • Discoloration also indicates spoilage.
  • Extremely runny consistency in frozen items.

Don’t be disheartened! The above 5 typical sweet treats and their shelf life is not an exhaustive list. There are countless others.

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