I have a huge issue with wasting food. In Canada, we waste a staggering 11 million tones of food each year. That’s 20% of all the food produced in the country categorized as avoidable food waste. So whatever we can do to proactively prevent unnecessary food waste (and let's face it, money waste) then I'm all in.
One of the budget-friendly food saving options we’ve started to put into practice is freezing food before it goes bad. We try to store things to ensure they last as long as possible, but if we just can’t use it in time then we have options. Things like berries, fruits, herbs and liquids like bone broth or soup stocks, freezing in portions using ice cube trays is an excellent strategy. You can keep your items organized in reusable silicon bags or bins once they’ve been frozen.
Ice cube trays are incredibly versatile kitchen tools that can be used for much more than just making ice.
Freezing Herbs in Olive Oil
Ice cube trays offer a fantastic solution for preserving fresh herbs in olive oil, allowing you to enjoy their flavors year-round. Here's how to do it:
If you're lucky enough to have an herb garden, harvest your favorite herbs, such as basil, thyme, rosemary, or parsley. This is also a great way to preserve fresh store-bought herbs before the go bad. Wash and pat dry the herbs to remove excess moisture. Then finely chop the herbs and place a small amount in each section of the ice cube tray. Fill the tray with olive oil, ensuring the herbs are fully covered. Place the tray in the freezer until the herb-infused olive oil cubes solidify.
Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe bag or container for easy storage.
Recommended Ice Cube Tray: Silicone ice cube trays with a lid work well for this purpose, as they prevent any odors or flavors from transferring.
Freezing Soup Stock
Preparing large batches of soup stock and freezing them in ice cube trays can save both time and effort when cooking. Follow these steps:
Prepare your preferred soup stock recipe and allow it to cool.
Pour the cooled soup stock into the ice cube tray compartments, filling them about three-quarters full.
Place the tray in the freezer until the soup stock cubes freeze completely.
Once frozen, remove the cubes from the tray and transfer them to a freezer bag or container.
Recommended Ice Cube Tray: Look for sturdy, BPA-free plastic trays with a flexible bottom to easily release the frozen cubes.
Ice Cubes with Flowers or Fruit
Enhance your beverages with beautiful ice cubes adorned with edible flowers or slices of fruit. This technique adds an elegant touch to any occasion. Here's what you need to do:
Select edible flowers, such as pansies or violas, or fruits like lemon, lime, berries, or cucumber.
Place one flower or fruit slice in each compartment of the ice cube tray.
Fill the tray with water or fruit juice, covering the flowers or fruit.
Carefully transfer the tray to the freezer and allow the cubes to freeze completely.
Once frozen, remove the ice cubes and use them to add a visually appealing element to your drinks.
Recommended Ice Cube Tray: Choose a clear plastic or silicone ice cube tray to showcase the flowers or fruit slices beautifully.
Freezing Portions of Baby Food
For parents who want to ensure a steady supply of homemade baby food, freezing individual portions using ice cube trays is a convenient and space-saving method. Follow these steps:
Prepare your desired baby food recipes, ensuring they are pureed to an appropriate consistency.
Spoon the pureed baby food into the ice cube tray compartments, filling them to the top.
Smooth the surface of the puree with the back of a spoon to remove any air pockets.
Place the tray in the freezer until the baby food cubes freeze solid. e) Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a labeled freezer bag or container.
Recommended Ice Cube Tray: Look for food-grade silicone ice cube trays with a tight-fitting lid to prevent freezer burn and odors.
Other Budget-Friendly Uses for Ice Cube Trays
Ice cube trays can serve a multitude of other purposes around the kitchen. Here are a few additional ideas:
Freeze leftover coffee to make iced coffee cubes that won't dilute your beverage.
Make homemade chocolate or nut butter cups by filling the compartments with melted chocolate or nut butter and freezing until firm.
Create colorful, homemade popsicles by filling the ice cube tray compartments with fruit juice and inserting popsicle sticks before freezing.
Portion out and freeze leftover sauces, such as pesto, tomato sauce, or gravy, for future use.
Recommended Ice Cube Tray: Consider using silicone trays with unique shapes or designs to add a touch of fun to your creations.
Ice cube trays are versatile, budget-friendly kitchen tools that offer creative solutions beyond making plain ice. Whether you're freezing herbs in olive oil, preserving soup stock, adding a decorative element to your beverages, portioning out baby food, or exploring other innovative uses, ice cube trays can revolutionize your cooking routine. By selecting the right type of ice cube tray for each purpose, you can make the most of these handy gadgets and unleash your culinary creativity.