There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.
Today: Meet an unlikely contender for your kitchen's true jack of all trades.
Ice cube trays exist in the strange limbo between specialty kitchen tool and everyday staple. Basic trays can be picked up for less than the price of a cocktail, but we still feel guilty spending our pocket change on a product that we assume only serves one purpose (especially when that purpose is as mundane as freezing water).
A seasoned Food52er, AntoniaJames has collected an impressive amount of creative uses for her ice cube trays. Determined to leave no tray unfilled, she turned to the Hotline for more ideas. From curry paste to coffee, the community has a number of clever suggestions for cubing anything and everything.
More: Here are 6 of our favorite ways to make the most of our ice trays.
- AntoniaJames whips up a batch of an aromatic paste -- such as curry, red bean, or massa de pimentão -- and freezes it in cubes to give a boost to quick dinners, leftovers, and sauces.
- In addition to these pastes, she makes and freezes various flavored simple syrups for last minute parties. While great in cocktails, these syrups can also double as dressings for fruit salads.
- ATL freezes cubes of coffee and tea to combat watered-down iced drinks.
More: Not even coffee cubes can save bland coffee -- here are five ways to make a better iced coffee.
- Strawberrygirl preserves batches of homemade tomato paste for a taste of summer all year long.
- Specialty milks like buttermilk, coconut milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk add great flavor to breads, pancakes, and dressings. Since many recipes only call for a small amount, Nancy freezes the remainder in her ice cube trays: "Once you know your ice cube's volume, you can easily figure out how many to use for, say, half a cup of buttermilk."
- Leftover herbs? Don't let those pricey sprigs go to waste. Purée them with olive oil, then freeze in trays for year-round use as inpatskitchen does.
- If you're left with a variety of herbs, take a cue from maimai50 and add in some nuts and cheese for a freezer-ready pesto.
More: Here's how to make a pungent pesto in just five steps.
- Similarly, Susan freezes puréed roasted garlic. She also keeps a tray of puréed pumpkin cubes in her freezer as a treat for her dog.
- With all the yolk-based ice creams, aiolis, and curds the summer season brings, it's easy to get stuck with a surplus of egg whites. Follow Angeline Gaw's lead and freeze them for future use -- one egg white per tray slot.
- Savorthis forgoes ice pop molds and instead uses her ice cube trays to make miniature pops.
Curry paste photos by Megan Scott, all other photos by James Ransom
Tell us: What are your most creative uses for an ice cube tray?