Most freezers today come with automatic ice machines and it seems like the days of filling up ice cube trays with water and carefully placing them in the freezer, spilling some in the process, are long gone. Ice cube trays are useful for many tasks beyond making ice and can in fact be your secret weapon when cooking, storing, and crafting:
- Leftover wine. Fill trays with leftover wine (not a problem in my house) and freeze. Place frozen cubes in a zip lock freezer bag and use cubes as needed when cooking to add directly to sauces and marinades – no need to thaw. You can also cool down a glass of white wine with a frozen white wine cube.
- Store leftover stock, sauce, pesto, or broth. Fill ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, transfer cubes to a freezer bag and label. Use in recipes as needed, again no thawing required:
- 2 cubes = 1/4 cup
4 cubes = 1/2 cup
6 cubes = 3/4 cup
8 cubes =1 cup
- Make home made ice pops. Remember this from the 70′s? Have your kids pick their favorite juice or juice combo, fill trays, cover with tin foil and stick popsicle sticks or plastic spoons in a pinch for customized popsicles. You can also use pudding for home made pudding pops a la Bill Cosby.
- Freeze fresh herbs when they are plentiful in trays and store cubes in a bag to use in recipes as needed.
- Leftover egg whites. Freeze one or two egg whites in each cube (whatever fits) and thaw as needed for recipes.
- Freeze your favorite juice (orange, apple, pineapple, lemon, lime, etc.) into cubes and pop into seltzer for a low calorie drink.
- Flavor your water by adding slices of lemon, lime, strawberry or orange (cut to fit), mint leaves, or a raspberry or grape or two in each cube, fill with water and freeze. Add cubes to a glass or pitcher of water and you will impress your guests too as it looks very festive.
- Freeze leftover coffee and add to iced coffee or milk shakes. Freeze tea to add to iced tea. Freeze lemonade and add cubes to iced tea for an Arnold Palmer.
- Store home made baby food. If you make your own baby food, add puree to trays, freeze, pop out cubes when frozen and store in a plastic freezer bag to thaw as needed. Again, label (and date) your bags.
- Paint trays. Use ice cube trays when painting – pour paint from large receptacles into trays for easier use or mix special colors in cube holders.
- Storage. Ice cube trays are great for separating and storing small items like screws, nails and other hardware. Jewelry making and other craft supplies and earrings and earring backs are easily stored as well.