by Emma Chow
Ice cube trays are useful things. They make great mini jelly, popsicle or chocolate moulds.
I once tried to see if a silicon ice cube mould could be used like a silicon cake mould. The answer was no. Absolutely, no. Evidently it is a very different grade of silicon. I don’t recommend it.
Here are some brilliant things to freeze in an ice cube tray that you will definitely use. To free up the ice cube tray once items are frozen, pop cubes out of the tray and keep in freezer bags. Preferably labelled. As many ice cube trays have different volumes, there are a couple good ways to know how much of something you’re freezing. Weigh the amount of stuff that fits into each compartment or if liquid, fill an ice cube compartment with water and measure how many millilitres it is.
Tomato paste – I never seem to be able to finish a jar of tomato paste before it starts going mouldy. And I hate those tiny tubs of tomato paste; too much packaging and waste. Freezing tomato paste enables you to buy one of those cheap giant cans of the stuff. Just scrape out and press into the ice cube tray and freeze.
Herbs in oil – We’ve covered this territory before. Chop fresh herbs and fill ice cube tray compartments with them. Fill with olive oil and freeze.
Blanched spinach or kale – Just like those blanched spinach blocks you get in the supermarket. If you get a glut of spinach or kale: blanch in boiling water, drain, cool, squeeze out excess water, chop, press into ice cube tray and freeze. Great for cooking and healthy juices and smoothies.
Coffee – I’ve seen so many very sexy Pinterest pictures of cubes of pure coffee in a glass of chilled milk. Best done with proper coffee and frozen very shortly after brewing so the coffee doesn’t begin to degrade and taste bad.
Baby food – A mother’s old hand trick. Put your home made baby purees in an ice cube tray for quick and easy meals in ready serving sizes. Even dad can’t get this wrong.
Stock and stock concentrate – Freeze homemade or leftover stock in ice cube trays and just defrost or add to cooking dishes as needed. To save fridge space, reduce your stock till concentrated so you need to store fewer stock cubes.
Pesto – Make a big batch of pesto and keep the extra in ice cube trays for easy future meals. Of all cheese, parmesan seems to freeze best. If you would prefer, omit the parmesan before freezing. This works well with home-made Napoli sauce also.
Freeze egg whites – If your chickens have produced a lot of eggs or you bought a lot very cheap, separate the eggs and freeze each white in one ice cube compartment. Egg whites that have been frozen are perfectly good to use, once defrosted. I used to use frozen egg whites a lot when I worked as a pastry chef’s apprentice. We always used defrosted frozen egg whites for making macarons. In another café we kept buckets of frozen egg whites to use for egg white omelettes on the weekend.
Freeze lemon juice – if you have an excess of lemons and can’t use them all, remove the zest and keep in a freezer bag. Juice the lemons and freeze the juice in ice cube trays.
DIY ‘smoothie cubes’ – You may have seen these in supermarkets. They’re just frozen cubes of blended fruit, a few added ingredients and some sweetener. And they will you’re your smoothie cost about $1.50 per serve and that doesn’t even include the milk. Crazy. Make them yourself. Blend your favourite smoothie fruits and freeze in ice cube trays. Pop them out, add two with milk in a blender and blitz. You could also freeze yogurt in the same way and have everything but your preferred milk frozen and ready for smoothies.