Whether or not your refrigerator makes ice, an ice cube tray is a kitchen essential. It can do way more than just make ice for a Florentine Freeze (though there’s nothing wrong with that!) and perfectly reheat leftover rice.
Why an Extra Ice Cube Tray Is Worth the Investment
You should consider buying one if you don’t have one kicking around.
An extra ice cube tray is your ticket to saving money. From portioning bulk ingredients to saving small amounts of leftovers, an ice cube tray holds more than plain water.
Don’t worry, we’ll even show you how to get the smell out of your silicone ice molds so that you can use it, too.
Sign up for The Thanksgiving Success Series
Be Thanksgiving-ready with the help of the Test Kitchen experts.
1. Never Waste Herbs Again
Tired of buying a bunch of basil and only getting to use half before the rest is crispy? Freeze your herbs in an ice cube tray. This works for any herb. There’s no need to thaw when you’re ready to use them and they’ll last for weeks.
2. Save Your Citrus
Citrus gets expensive–especially when you notice those lemons have gotten leathery in the fruit bowl. Use up the whole fruit! You can (and should!) freeze citrus zest. Before you cut the citrus, get in the habit of zesting it first so that nothing goes to waste. You can add it to a modern fruit cake or a tangy dressing to top roasted fennel.
Then, juice the citrus and freeze the juice in ice cube trays and add them to dishes, sauces, and even plain water for a tangy kick.
Innovative Ice Cube TraysNo freezer is complete without a good ice tray. We tested some new designs that bring this kitchen must-have into the 21st century.
3. Make Dessert on Demand
If you have an extra ice cube tray and a food processor, you can make the Easiest-Ever Vanilla Ice Cream (no ice cream maker necessary). The quicker the base freezes, the smoother the ice cream, so dividing the ice cream base into ice cube trays speeds up the process. When you’re ready for ice cream, add the cubes to a food processor. A batch of ice cream whips up in 30 seconds and results in smooth, luxurious ice cream. The cubes last in the freezer for up to two weeks, so you can make this part ahead if you like.
And it's not just creamy desserts. For a dreamy dessert that uses up those past-their-prime strawberries, make a Strawberry Granita. Freezing the strained strawberry puree into ice cubes means you're seconds away from a cooling treat. Keep a bag of these 3-ingredient slushy cubes in the freezer for a week.
4. Freeze Leftover Wine
How often do you open a bottle of wine and not finish it? Even with a wine saver, it won’t last more than a few days. There's a solution. Spirits may not freeze, but wine will. Pour 1 tablespoon into each ice cube well and freeze. Note: This will cause your wine to separate a bit, so this wine, once thawed, will be best used for cooking rather than drinking.
The Complete Modern PantryWhen you need to improvise, capture the ethos of true pantry cooking with a unique approach: build simple dishes and combine hundreds of flavor combinations that leave you plenty of room to play (and use up what you have on hand).
5. Save Broth for Later
Whether you made a big batch of homemade stock or only used half the box of chicken broth, pre-portion and freeze the leftovers in an ice cube tray.
Add the perfect amount of body and flavor to soups and pan sauces with pre-portioned stock. This way, you only only what you need and don’t have to thaw an entire quart of stock to loosen up one serving of Lemon and Chive Pan Sauce.
6. Leftover egg whites? Freeze them, too!
Pour leftover egg whites (never yolks) into each well of ice cube tray and freeze. As long as they’re fully defrosted in the fridge before use, they’ll whip up just like fresh to top a Key Lime Meringue Slab Pie or bake a batch of stellar Chocolate Spice Cookies.
Bonus: Toss a frozen egg white cube into your shaker for a leveled-up Whiskey Sour.
Photo credit: bgwalker / iStock via Getty Images Plus