A few years ago I was doing a science experiment with my third graders, we were going to make predictions about how quickly an ice cube would melt in different places in the classroom. By the back door, by the heater, by the teachers desk etc. I pulled out the ice cube tray and started to put the cubes into little dishes to place around the room when a student asks, “Mrs. Buck, what is that?” I was confused at first and simply told the student that they were the ice cubes. “No, the blue thing the ice cubes are in.” Ok, not really believing what I was hearing I told the child the blue thing was the ice cube TRAY. Long story short, a show of hands told me that almost half of my students had never seen an ice cube tray before. They thought ice cubes just came out of the front of the fridge. Unbelievable. It’s true that a good number of us don’t use ice cubes trays much anymore but an ice cube tray in my world is used for so much more than ice. So, before you throw away those archaic trays, read this post!
I started making a list of the different ways I use or have used ice cube trays. When I noticed that so many of these uses would involve Springdell goodies this post was born.
1. Egg whites – you can freeze an egg white in each section of the tray. I’m a baker so I often use only parts of eggs and I never let parts go to waste. Once the egg whites are frozen, pop them out and put them in a ziplock and label them: egg whites, one white per cube. It’s important to say how much is in a cube. With egg whites you need the take them out and thaw them before use.
2. Wine cubes – I have to thank my sister for this one. Only cook with wine you would drink, just a rule of thumb. If you open up a bottle of wine to use for cooking, you will have a good amount leftover. If you are my sister this isn’t a problem, it will not have time to go bad before consumed. If you are me it’s a problem, I am not a wine drinker. I hate to waste and always felt I needed to cook meal after meal using wine until the whole bottle was used! Until my sister told me you can freeze wine into cubes. Love this. Freeze them, then put the cubes into a ziplock. Toss wine cubes into your cooking when needed.
3. Pesto – I love when the basil comes in full force from Springdell. Talk about delicious. Basil, tomato and mozzarella….yum. Another of my favorites is homemade pesto. I love to freeze pesto into cubes. Throw a cube or two into a red sauce in the middle of winter and you know the beauty of this trick.
4. Coffee and tea – coffee frozen into cubes is great for iced coffee without watering it down. Freeze strong chai tea into cubes and toss 3-4 of the into a cup of milk for a delicious chai latte.
5. Buttermilk – I have never really understood this. When I go to the store I sometimes can’t find buttermilk or I find only the huge container. I don’t know what you are making to use a huge container of butter milk but alas, I am often stuck with the big container. Freeze what you don’t use. Put 2 tablespoons into each cube. Put the frozen cubes into a ziplock and label it: buttermilk, 2 tablespoons per cube.
6. Baby food/fruit and veggie purée – put any of the Springdell greens or delicious fruits from their fruit farming friends into the blender or food processor and freeze them into cubes. Perfect for your little ones or for you in a smoothie.
7. Ginger – purée peeled fresh ginger with a little bit of water and freeze. This also works with horseradish :). Great to throw into a sauce.
8. Lemon and Lime – never throw out a lemon or lime. You can freeze the juice in cubes as is. You can freeze lemon or lime zest into cubes to brighten up sauces etc. You can also juice a lemon or lime and then cut the already squeezed citrus into small chunks and put them in the tray covered with vinegar and freeze. When your garbage disposal smells a little less than fresh pop in a cube to help with the odor.
9. Fresh herbs – I use this one all the time. I LOVE the Springdell herb garden. You pick the herbs from the garden, chop them up and put them in the cubes. Add oil and freeze. Remove the cubes and put them in a ziplock. Don’t forget to label them with what herb they are. I also like to do herb combos that I know I use together a lot for pasta sauces etc.
10. Simple syrup – I make a simple syrup out of equal parts sugar and water. Heat until the sugar has dissolved. You can freeze as is and just pop a cube into a beverage or you can steep the simple syrup with herbs or flavors too. I love to use mint from Springdell and let that steep. I let it sit in there until the syrup is cool, strain out the mint, freeze and I have cubes to use in my iced tea. Delicious.
There are so many more ways a tray can be useful in the kitchen. Experiment and feel free to share what you do in your kitchen.