Kitchen Confidence

6 Uses for an Ice Cube Tray

By • October 15, 2013 • 13 Comments

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.  

Today: Our favorite ways to get the most out of our ice cube trays.

Ice Cube Trays on Food52  Ice Cube Trays on Food52

Freezer storage is an essential tool for any cook: It makes your kitchen (and your freezer) more efficient, and it gives you the freedom to make more food than you'll eat. It is, essentially, a very cold pantry.

More: Pick up our favorite ice cube trays in Provisions.

One of the easiest and tidiest ways to freeze a number of ingredients is to freeze them in cubes. So we've rounded up our favorite things to keep on hand in cube form -- be sure to share yours in the comments.

Ice Cubes on Food52

Tomato paste. You're usually only using it in tablespoons anyways, so freezing in small cubes is perfect. You also shouldn't store open cans or tins in the fridge (here's why), so this is a great way to avoid throwing away the majority of a can that doesn't get used.

Ice Cubes on Food52

Stock and broth. In case you needed further incentive to make your own stock at home: It freezes beautifully, especially if you have big ice cube trays. Cubes are tidier and easier to use than big, warped plastic bags full of broth that stack awkwardly. Use them to make pantry soups when your fridge is bare and the takeout menu is taunting.

Ice Cubes on Food52

Herbs in oil. If drying herbs at home isn't your thing, here's an easier way to preserve them. Defrost while you boil your pasta water, and you'll add an extra layer of flavor to dinner without any additional work.

More: Add herbs to a cheesy pasta.

Ice Cubes on Food52

Fancy ice cubes. Because they will make your guests think you are fancy. Add them to your cocktails, or to your fizzy water when you're in need of a pick-me-up.  

Ice Cubes on Food52

Pesto. Make a big batch -- here's how -- and freeze it in cubes to use when warm weather herbs are a far-off memory. Defrost and add to pasta, pizza, sandwiches, or crostini.

Just one last tip: Make sure to wash your trays well after freezing anything that isn't water. You likely don't want your cold brew tasting like fresh sage.

Tell us: What are your favorite things to do with an ice cube tray?

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: ice cubes, ice cube trays, kitchen storage, kitchen hacks

Comments (13)

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4 months ago Gwendolyn McGraw Adams

I have a dresser drawer that I use ice cube trays in to store my earrings. I have so many that they don't all fit in my big jewelry box. Works great and I can see them all at once.

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6 months ago amysarah

Last Thanksgiving I made way too much cranberry sauce, and froze the leftovers in large-ish ice cubes on a whim. Was nice to have on hand to dress up roasted chicken or pork. I also added cubes to my mom's sweet and sour meatball recipe, which made it extra delicious. I think I'll make too much accidentally on purpose this year.

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6 months ago Kate

I've heard of freezing leftover wine in ice cube trays for adding to dishes later, deglazing, etc.. Not that I've ever been burdened by leftover wine....

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6 months ago Rose Lewis

Yes! I do that,too... When there is the odd bit left.

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6 months ago Rose Lewis

I like to freeze leftover coffee to use in place of ice cubes in iced coffee.

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6 months ago Pateldar

I freeze baby food (carrots, peas, pears, apples, cooked quinoa, rice, etc) in ice trays and then mix and match when it is time to eat.

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6 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice; this is one of many "five minute tasks" that I keep front of mind, when I have small pockets of time available in the kitchen. I usually zest the lemons/limes first and put a pinch of zest in as many of the cubes as I can, for added oomph. These cubes of intense citrus flavor brighten countless dishes, especially dishes made in advance and frozen, e.g., the Genius hummus recipe here on Food52, beans for tacos and wraps, black bean soup, curried red lentil soup, etc. Weeknight dinners have gotten even easier since I started making a regular habit of doing this. ;o)

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is an editor at Food52.

Never thought of that -- thanks so much for the tip!

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6 months ago savorthis

I zest first and keep frozen separately but I love the idea of adding the zest! I always have frozen ginger juice on hand too...

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6 months ago daryn

I've never used a whole can in one sitting, so I use a small ice cube tray to individually freeze those canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, each with a dollop of the sauce. Then it's handy to dice one up with a little sour cream for a quick taco sauce, or whatever. They thaw quickly and are easy to finely dice when slightly frozen.

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6 months ago Marian Bull

Marian is an editor at Food52.

Brilliant. I always end up throwing those guys away, which is sad.

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6 months ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I love that idea -- I'm always hesitant to cook with them because I hate wasting them. This is a great way to use them more AND make them last!

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6 months ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

Great tip daryn!