Royal Icing Storage Tips and Timeframes
Any cookier who uses royal icing* knows that you very rarely have NO icing leftover at the end of a project (if you are consistently able to have just enough icing every time, then you are the level of prepared most of us can only aspire to be!).
The question then becomes: what do I do with that leftover icing? Well, let’s just say “throw it in the trash” does not rank high on this list. Here are some guidelines for how long royal icing will last in a few different scenarios.
*For the purpose of this blog post, “royal icing” refers to icing made with meringue powder, NOT real egg whites, which would have different timeframes.
Storing Royal Icing on the Counter at Room Temperature
When stored properly in an airtight container at room temperature, royal icing will stay good to use for 2-3 days on your counter; if you have multiple orders in a row, or even if you just take a little longer with your decorating process, you don’t necessarily have to worry about making new icing immediately.
- Make sure to press a piece of cling film against the surface of the icing to prevent any crusting from air exposure and keep the edges of your container nice and clean so that you don’t accidentally knock hardened bits of icing into your good icing.
- Icing stored in sealed piping bags will also be ok for the same time frame, although it may have to be remixed before using.
- The more water content in the icing, the more likely it is to separate; if this happens, squeeze the icing out into a bowl and remix it to get it back to its original consistency.
How to Store Royal Icing in the Fridge
Royal icing stored in the fridge can stay good for a couple of weeks (again, assuming that you follow the same air-tight storage process). If you know you have an upcoming order with those same colors, or if you think you can tint those colors to the correct shade you’ll need, then why throw them away? Save yourself the cost and effort of making more icing if you don’t have to.
- Allow icing that has been refrigerated to come to room temperature.
- The same rule applies in the fridge as it does on the counter: the more water in the icing, the more likely it is to separate over time. If you are able, consider keeping your icing as thick as possible, but know that the longer the icing is in the fridge, the higher the chance you’ll need to pop it in your mixer to reconstitute it.
- If your icing seems grainy or just not-quite-right after remixing, it’s time to discard it.
Storing Royal Icing in the Freezer
Overestimate how much icing you'll need for an order? Don't waste those leftovers! Royal icing will stay good for almost an indefinite amount of time in the freezer. This can be a huge timesaver if you only need a little bit of a color and don’t want to have to make a whole new batch of icing. It can also be great if you want to make royal icing transfers ahead of time.
- If you have enough of one color icing to warrant using a container, again make sure that you lay cling wrap over the surface of the icing and choose a container that can get an airtight seal.
- You can freeze small amounts of icing in sealed piping bags! Massage the bag(s) to make sure all air bubbles are out, and then place them in a freezer storage bag or other airtight container.
- Make sure you have a fresh container of baking soda in your freezer, and be wary of what else you have stored in there! Fish-flavored royal icing isn’t going to fly with many customers.
- Leave your frozen icing to come to room temp on your counter; larger portions will require more defrosting time, but piping bags full of icing usually don’t take very long.
- Remix as needed, and assess your taste and consistency; if anything tastes or feels wonky, discard.
Storing Royal Icing Advice from an Expert
Three last bits of advice:
- This doesn’t only apply to “leftover” icing—if you want to make your icing ahead to save yourself some time, go for it! This can be a huge help around the holidays.
- Make sure you date your containers before putting them in the freezer/fridge.
- If you make different flavors of royal icing, make sure your containers are labeled as to what is inside them. You wouldn’t want to accidentally use almond-flavored icing on an order for a customer who has an allergy to it.
Now that you know you can stockpile icing, go ahead and enjoy all that extra time you’ll save not whipping up a batch on a moment’s notice!
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