How do you put your ice cube trays to work -- other than for making pure ice? ;o)

I've been meaning for month to raise this, as I often drop comments into column and recipe threads, but think it's worth a real discussion here. I find the two types of silicone trays (you can get them in the Provisions shop) so helpful, especially because I almost never use zip lock bags, though I stock my freezer with all kinds of homemade "convenience" items.

So, here are a few to get things rolling:

I make what I call my "aromatic pastes" similar to the curry paste that The Joy Kitchen posted a few weeks ago. About every month or 6 weeks, I get my food processor out and blitz up:
Thai curry paste,
lemongrass + scallions + garlic paste,
scallions + ginger + garlic paste,
cilantro + garlic + scallions paste, and
tamarind + cilantro + scallion or shallot + garlic paste.
These are a godsend for starting meals, re-purposing leftovers/freezer staples into new meals, making dal taste great, turning into quick sauces for roti wraps, etc.

For many of those uses, I also want a touch of acid, which takes me to my next (very familiar use):

Lemon juice and lime juice cubes.

Taking that a step further:

mint limeade syrup, and

rosemary lemonade syrup, in cubes. Perfect for last minute parties! The mint limeade syrup also does a nice job of perking up quick fruit salads, especially the ones we make with the tart, crunchy blueberries we've been picking lately.

I've found that the large cubes are the perfect size for:

the fig jam preserves that fill the epic Blue Cheese and Fig Savouries here on Food52 (I keep logs of the dough in the freezer, too, for baking up quickly when friends come over unexpectedly or we have an impromptu dinner party; and

apricot jam, for brushing on fruit tarts.

Now . . . . what have I missed?!
Thanks, everyone. ;o)



MMH May 18, 2017
We have large ice cube molds for cocktails - 1 large cube per glass. Last year I sautéed Swiss chard in olive oil with garlic and froze in those molds. I added them to soups, pasta sauces & frittatas. You could do the same with any kale, spinach or other green.
stacy May 18, 2017
I freeze milk, beer and wine to use in soap-making. Freezing liquids with sugar prevents the lye from scorching it. When you mix lye with liquid it heats up very quickly, and if it scorches it can turn brown and smell bad
Nancy May 18, 2017
Sarah Jampel is presenting many of these ideas in a feature (May 2018)
Nancy May 18, 2017
And to give earlier crediet, Marian Bull (Oct 2013) reviewed & presented 6 ways to use an ice cube tray, also from hotline. One of the best ideas in the comments was for chocolate ice cubes. (I have visions of ice coffee with these, summer days....)
drbabs July 7, 2014
I freeze juice for summer drinks, but my non-cooking use for ice cube trays is that I keep two of them in my night table drawer and store my earrings in them.
scruz July 3, 2014
leftover coffee for iced coffee, canned pineapple juice for putting in soda water, bottled spaghetti sauce, store bought pesto sauce, fresh lemon and lime juice when there is a glut in the garden.
savorthis July 2, 2014
I freeze ginger juice, mixers with cucumber/lime/ginger/mint for mock/cocktails, chopped leftover chipotles in adobo, lime juice (since I can still buy big bags at costco and it is SO worth it), mini popsicles.

In addition I will freeze things in cupcake tins then store them in a tupperware or large plastic bag. They are the perfect size for single servings of things like blanched greens, baked beans, etc.
strawberrygirl July 1, 2014
I freeze egg whites too. I make a lot of ice cream using a custard base with egg yolks, so it generates a lot of leftover whites.

I also freeze chipotle purée, and leftover tomato paste.
Nancy July 1, 2014
Antonia James - yes the coconut milk will freeze, good for about 2-3 months.
Susan W. July 1, 2014
AJ, the first time I froze the roasted garlic, I had a ton (I was visiting my mom in So Cal and she has 1.25 acre of garden), so I used a cuisinart and added a little olive oil. I have also mushed a roasted bulb with the side of a knife and tossed it straight into the tray. Last but not least, I added chicken stock to the tray. I found the chicken stock version most useful. One time, I had a bunch of basil, so I did a basil, roasted garlic puree with olive oil..huzzah!! :-)
AntoniaJames July 1, 2014
Huzzah!! I should say so. Thanks for this helpful information. Cannot wait to implement. I live 1.5 hours from the garlic capital of the world -- Gilroy, CA -- so the garlic we get at the farmers' markets is wonderfully fresh. Will definitely be buying three or four, or more, for this purpose. Will put in light chicken stock, as that sounds most versatile Great idea!! ;o)
inpatskitchen July 1, 2014
I grow tons of basil and mint and puree the basil leaves with olive oil and then freeze in the trays for a taste of summer all year long. I chop mint leaves and cover them with water in the trays and then freeze.
AntoniaJames July 1, 2014
My mint thrives year round here, but the basil leaves with olive oil is definitely one I'll have to try! Thanks, ipk. ;o)
Nancy July 1, 2014
I do and like many of the suggestions you've all made - spice paste, fancy ice for flavored water, coffee or tea cubes. I also freeze specialty milk products leftover from recipe that uses only a small bit - buttermilk, condensed &/or evaporated milk. Great for sauces, soups, smoothies, making biscuits, etc. Once you know your ice cube volume, you can easily figure out how many to use for, say, half a cup of buttermilk.
AntoniaJames July 1, 2014
I've done this for almond milk, when I've had more on hand than I can use before it turns. The cubes are perfect for smoothies. (It tends to separate so blending seems in order.) What about coconut milk? Have you tried that? I have half a can sitting in a Mason jar in my fridge, which I've been thinking about putting into large cubes for later use in curries, dals, smoothies, etc. Thanks! ;o)
maimai50 July 1, 2014
leftiover chicken stock and for pesto
AntoniaJames July 1, 2014
I usually put my stock into small, or large Mason jars. The larger cubes though sound like a great idea, for when you just need a bit to moisten a sauce, etc. Thank you, maimai50, for the reminder!
ATL July 1, 2014
These are much better answers than this but I make coffee ice cubes and tea ice cubes for iced coffee or tea. Keeps the drinks from getting watered down. You can freeze espresso. Etc., for iced Americanos too.
Susan W. June 30, 2014
My ice trays work hard. First, I like drinking Sassy Water in pretty glasses, so that calls for pretty ice. I freeze edible flowers or mint leaves in my ice so my water is pretty.

Then the usual suspects of curry and other pastes, pesto, roasted garlic and sometimes infused olive oils.

Last but not least..leftover pumpkin for the dog. She's little, so it takes her forever to finish a can.
AntoniaJames July 1, 2014
Susan, how do you freeze the roasted garlic? Do you just squeeze it into the trays, or do you mash it with olive oil? Such a great idea! ;o)
Gibson2011 June 30, 2014
I keep meaning to make a large batch of rosemary paste (it's great over salmon).
I've finally gotten past the point of freezing baby food for my little one. I never had any ice because they were always being used for him! Now that he's really into solids, I miss the convenience of just thawing a few cubes.
AntoniaJames July 1, 2014
Gibson2011, how do you make the rosemary paste? Do tell! I have an endless supply of rosemary -- it's part of the landscaping over an eye-level retaining wall right 20 steps from my kitchen -- so I find this most interesting. And how do you use the paste, other than with salmon? I'm dying to know. ;o)
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