Ice is a staple for warm climates like ours. Most people use it to keep drinks and desserts cool, but we can actually use it for way more than just chilling water.
Hack this versatile kitchen tool by creating iced coffee that not only looks good, but also doesn’t get watered down in the heat. Or, freeze herbs and olive oil to make cooking on busy days more convenient!
Hacks To Make Perfect Ice Cubes
Filling Ice Cube Trays Fast
Filling ice cube trays fast can be tricky. This hack reduces water wastage and splashing all at once just by tilting the tray such that the water flows from the top of the tray to the bottom!
Or, lay the tray flat and fill the tray by ensuring the water stream is on the divider, rather than in the holes of the tray.
Making Clear & Bubble-free Ice Cubes For Cocktails
If you ever wondered how restaurants produce crystal clear ice in your drinks, here’s how they do it! They often use machines that freeze distilled water fast, but you can make your own simply by replacing tap water with boiled or purified water instead.
Since the cloudiness in ice cubes is caused by impurities in tap water, using purified water instead will give you clear ice that not only looks better but stays cold longer too! Use a large, spherical mold to create ice for cocktails for a fancier look.
Other Ways To Use Your Ice Cube Tray
1. Coffee Ice Cubes
Hate watered-down iced coffee? With this hack, you won’t have to worry! Simply make a batch of your favourite coffee and freeze it in an ice tray. Then, when you’re ready to have your daily cup, pop out some of the frozen coffee cubes and add it to a glass of milk.
Steps: make the coffee with about 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds to 100 ml of hot water so that it dissolves completely first. Then, top it off with 200ml of cold water, enough to make about half a litre (about one regular plastic bottle) of coffee. Freeze the coffee for 3-4 hours. These frozen coffee cubes last in the fridge for about 2 weeks before they go bad.
If you have to use the tray for other purposes, remember to store them in an airtight bag or container to prevent odour from being absorbed into your coffee cubes!
Alternatively, inverse this recipe and freeze your favourite coffee creamer instead, as they’re mostly dairy-based and have a short shelf-life. Then, add the frozen creamer to coffee or any other drink to beat the heat!
2. Meal Prep Baby Food
Using an ice cube tray to portion out baby food for each meal will save you time in measuring out the exact amount of food during mealtime, and will save you money by prolonging the shelf-life of expensive baby food!
Freeze the purée in an ice cube tray, then store it in an airtight box or bag. Make sure to label the date and type of food. Frozen baby food stays edible for about 1-3 months, so toss it out when it’s time.
Thaw the food in the microwave, or with a double boiler (in a small bowl over a larger bowl of hot water). Like many other frozen types of food, do not refreeze thawed food to prevent contamination! Instead, start with 2-3 cubes, and heat up more if your child is still hungry.
3. Pre-make Smoothies
Making a refreshing smoothie from scratch every time can be a hassle especially during work days. Prepare your smoothies beforehand by blending yogurt together with any fruit you like, before freezing it and then blending it again whenever you feel like having one.
If you’re a health nut, try using this same method for kale or spinach smoothies!
4. Freezing Herbs & Olive Oil
Fresh herbs are notoriously hard to preserve, so why not try out this popular cooking hack? Fill an ice cube tray with ⅓ olive oil and ⅔ chopped herbs and freeze it to make meal preparation easier. These stay safe to eat in the freezer for about 6-9 months.
Alternatively, do away with the oil and freeze them with water instead! Chop the herbs and press them into the ice cube tray, then fill with water just until the herbs are submerged before freezing.
For both methods, store the frozen herbs in airtight bags or containers until you’re ready to use them. These methods work for all types of herbs, whether they’re tender, like cilantro and parsley, or woodier ones like oregano and sage. Although they may look limp when thawed, they do provide the same intense taste to cooked food!
5. Fruit Infused Ice Cubes
Impress any guests by using this simple hack! Place small pieces of fruit like cut strawberries and oranges, whole blueberries and raspberries into the tray before filling it up with water and freezing it. This 5-minute method will make even a simple glass of water look fancy and provide subtle flavour.
6. Freezing Aloe For Sunburns & Skincare
Aloe vera is the go-to for bad sunburns because of its amazing calming properties. By freezing aloe vera gel (store-bought or extracted from the leaves), you can cool down and soothe any sun damage after a day at the beach, or even use it to depuff and refresh swollen eyes in the mornings!
Remember to wrap the frozen aloe in a thin, clean cloth like an old T-shirt before applying it to your face as the skin is especially thin and sensitive there.
While the ice cube tray is humble-looking, it’s definitely a super tool in the kitchen when helping us to make creative drinks and preserve food for longer. Let us know which ice cube tray hack was your favourite!