How many uses do you have for an ice tray? The synonyms of versatile include, among others, adaptable, flexible, variable, all-purpose, multipurpose and handy. In my opinion, all of them apply when it comes to ice trays. I recently came across Judy’s article about the cleverness of freezing wine in ice trays. That inspired me to note down the many purposes I have for them.
I use ice cube trays to hold small sewing-related goodies like buttons and other haberdashery bits. Similarly, odd bits in the bathroom often find their way into a designated ice tray. Also, I have one on my desk to hold paperclips, thumbtacks, and other junk that I might use someday. My husband caught the ice tray bug, and he has a few of them lined up on his workbench. Furthermore, before my children flew the coop, an ice cube tray in the laundry was essential. It was a catch-all for coins and bits I found in the pockets before their clothes went into the washer. My tips might give you ideas on how your household could use ice trays.
REMEMBER: Always spray the ice cube tray with cooking spray to allow the frozen cubes to pop out easily.
An ice tray can help to make the perfect drink every time
I love iced coffee and iced tea in the summertime. What I don’t like is adding ordinary ice cubes that water them down. So, brew a pot of lovely, strong tea, and the same for coffee. Fill the one side of the ice tray with tea, and the other side with coffee. Pop those into your iced tea or coffee for fuller flavor. I call mine coffee bombs because they make mocha brownies explode with flavor if you replace the water with frozen coffee cubes. In the same vein, I drop frozen tea cubes into lemonade and cocktails for refreshing drinks.
Lemon, lime drink with thyme and rosemary
You have to try this! Put a sprig of thyme and rosemary in each cube, fill them with lime juice and freeze it.
Mix 1/2 cup each of lime and lemon juice, 4 cups of cold water and 3/4 cup of sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and refrigerate the mixture. Add herby frozen cubes into the pitcher or the glasses.
Freeze fruit and vegetables in an ice tray
I use ice cube trays to freeze individual whole fruit like various berries and cherries, grapes and peeled lychees. Once they are frozen, I put them in Ziploc bags, giving us seasonal fruit throughout the year. By the way, I freeze whole unpeeled citrus and bananas. Once thawed, citrus juices are as fresh as ever, and the bananas are perfect for baking banana bread. (The banana peels become pitch black in the freezer, but the fruit inside is perfect for baking.)
Smoothies on the go
Pureed fruit and vegetables can be frozen on their own to use when cooking. However, add a dollop of Greek yogurt in each cube, and you’ll have the makings of fresh and tasty smoothies.
Keep a supply of milk and buttermilk
Make sure you have a supply of frozen milk and buttermilk, ready to add to tangy mashed potatoes, whip up a ranch dressing, buttermilk icing, creamy panna cotta and fluffy waffles.
Freeze bacon drippings in an ice tray
Imagine having the perfect ingredient ready to add a smoky, bacony flavor to soups, pasta, sauteed greens or salad dressings.
How handy would caramelized onions in frozen cubes be?
Caramelized onions are the perfect addition to many meals; however, making them is time-consuming. Imagine having caramelized onions ready for the next time you make a burger.
Make double batches of sauces
If you double up on tasty homemade sauces, you can freeze the extra in ice cube trays. How handy would it be to have ready-made pesto or tomato sauce when you have limited time?
Ginger and garlic
Grated ginger and a garlic slurry ensure you have these basic’s ready to scrape off the frozen cubes to add to stir-fries, soups, mashed potatoes, etc.
Ice trays make perfect portions of herbs
Saving the prep time can be invaluable in the busy lives we live. Chop herbs and pack them in ice cube trays. Fill the cubes with olive oil and freeze them, ready to be repacked into resealable freezer bags the next day. You can even mix different herbs in some of the cubes. Most importantly, you’ll always have fresh herbs ready to pop into the pan when needed.
Portioned cookie dough
Mix a double batch of cookie dough next time, and portion it into ice trays. Imagine how popular you’ll be if you can present a fresh batch of cookies in about 30 minutes.
Mini chocolate treats in an ice tray
Melt chocolate and pour it into an ice cube tray, top it with dried berries and nuts. Be creative, push a cherry into the chocolate, or push mini marshmallows into the center. You can leave it to set at room temperature. Separate the cubes into mini chocolate bars.
Toddlers love finger foods. Settle the little one in a high chair and present him or her with a buffet of colorful foods. You can fill the cubes of an ice tray with a colorful range of tidbits. Cut small cheese cubes, break up crackers, add berries and any other healthy, colorful foods. You can also freeze pureed baby food.
Meanwhile, I got a bit carried away here — should have been busy in the kitchen already. Fortunately, I have a range of frozen cubes in resealable freezer bags, so I’m good to go. I hope these tips inspire you to use ice cube trays to make your life easier.