A scoop of peppermint stick ice cream at the Gifford's ice cream shop in the Chevy Chase neighborhood on Wisconsin Circle. (Susan Biddle/THE WASHINGTON POST)

What do avalanches and ice cream have in common?

Ice crystals! And so giant food company Nestle is using the same technology used by avalanche experts to look at the crystals in ice cream.

You may have noticed that if ice cream has been in the freezer too long it starts to taste “funny.” Researchers think that’s because the ice crystals have grown and stuck together. When that happens the taste of the dessert can change — and not in a good way.

By using the same special X-ray technology that avalanche experts use to study which ice crystals are most likely to cause the formation of an avalanche, ice cream experts can see what happens in your home freezer.

“Previously, we could not look inside ice cream without destroying the sample,” said Nestle food scientist Cedric Dubois.

Of course the easiest solution is to eat the ice cream before its crystals have time to change!