Monday, April 8, 2013

"Making Do" in the Kitchen: 101 Uses for Your Ice Cube Trays

{Okay, so it's really more like, 8 Uses for Your Ice Cube Trays... but still... I bet you will find an idea or two here that you hadn't thought of ....}

When we moved into our house about 10 1/2 years ago, we were lucky to find that the refrigerator/freezer that came with it had an automatic ice maker, so these guys got thrown to the back of a cabinet.


Fast forward all those years later... I pulled those trays out of the cabinet, ran them through the dishwasher (yeah, all those years in the back of the cabinet had left them pretty dusty), and started of thinking of all the things I could use them for, besides making ice cubes with standard H2O.

The little "compartment" of an ice cube tray will hold about 1 tablespoon. For all of these ideas, place the food in the tray, freeze, pop them out, then store in plastic bags in your freezer.

Don't you hate it when you need just a tablespoon of tomato paste, and then the rest of the can goes to waste before you get a chance to use it? Simply put the leftovers into cube trays & freeze. Now you can use a tablespoon or 2 of tomato paste whenever you need it, without worrying about how to use up what's leftover. (I have bought the tomato paste in a tube before, and while it's convenient when you need just a small amount, it's quite a bit more expensive than buying the cans when they are on sale.)





That bunch of cilantro in the above photo was hanging out in the fridge, too, with nowhere to go. I had bought a bunch of cilantro to make salsa, but only used about half of it. A great way to use up fresh herbs is to make a "pesto" (traditionally made with basil, but it's the same idea.) Put the herbs in a blender or food processor with a little water and/or oil and make a paste. Spoon into the trays and freeze. Voila- a freezer stocked with "fresh" herbs (which taste a whole lot better than the jars of dried herbs, anyway.)

Making a recipe which calls for egg whites or egg yolks only, and don't want to throw the rest out? Place the leftover whites or yolks in the trays and freeze. Each compartment in the ice cube tray will fit one yolk perfectly, or the white of a medium egg. I found that they didn't just pop right out of the tray, so I ran the bottom of the tray under a little warm water and used a knife to loosen the edges.

If milk or cream is about to turn, place in ice cube trays and freeze- then pop one into your morning coffee or tea. (You may want to fill the trays only about 1/3 - 1/2 full if you don't use a full tablespoon of milk or cream in your coffee.)

Here is a trick I picked up from Trader Joe's- I purchased their frozen mashed potatoes and found that the potatoes in the bag were frozen little squares or nuggets. Place your leftover mashed potatoes in ice cube trays to freeze, and then you can take out exactly as many portions as you need. Great for single servings!

Make juice cubes instead of regular ice cubes for your summer iced teas and cocktails- it will flavor rather than dilute your beverage as it melts. Try the same idea with leftover coffee and make cubes for your iced coffee.

Freeze leftover broth, stock, or wine and place a cube or two in sauces and gravies or other favorite recipes as they cook.

I'm sure there are many other things to use your ice cube trays for- Please share your ideas and tips with us in the comments!


62 comments:

  1. Great ideas and I do have some cilantro that needs to be used. I love the taste of it and use it in broiled potatoes.

    Debbie

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    Replies
    1. I love cilantro, too. I have heard that to some people it tastes "soapy," but not me!I love to put it in all of my Mexican dishes- I have never tried it on potatoes- that sounds good....

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    2. Buttermilk - 8 cubes equals a cup. It is a great way to make sure you get to use all the container when you buy it!!

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  2. I don't even own any ice cube trays! I may have to remedy that situation. I have heard of people putting leftover wine in them and keeping it to throw into beef stews and such. Since I don't own ice cube trays, this is what I do with leftover tomato paste. After I open a new can and use what I need, I put the rest into a medium sized freezer bag and press out all the air. Then I seal it up and flatten it out so it is the same thickness all throughout the bag. Then when I need some it is easy to break off what I need and throw it in the pot! I have done this for years and everyone I know now does it too. Takes up so little space if you only have a small freezer too! Thank you for sharing great ideas with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think a lot of people have automatic ice cube makers now and don't have the old fashioned ice cube trays anymore. You have a great idea for the tomato paste- no ice cube tray needed :)

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    2. package of 2 at the Dollar Tree for $1 :)

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  3. .... left over wine!?!?!?!? LOL. Linda x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been known to happen, on occasion.... so I've heard, ha ha.

      Delete
  4. When my kids were of the baby food age, I couldn't in good conscience feed them the prepackaged foods from the store so I made my own baby food. We froze fresh mashed fruits and veggies in ice cube trays to make ready to serve meals that could be thawed and eaten quickly and easily!
    We also froze eggs and whites when we owned chickens! It's a great way to preserve eggs when you're overcome.
    I currently do several of the broth and herb tricks.
    My fave is to freeze tea, lemonade, koolade so that my favorite cold beverages don't get watered down. :)
    I never have leftover wine either. o.O

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes- I've heard of preserving baby food that way! Great idea!

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  5. Great tips Jacquelynne - I had to pin this for later use!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Thanks! I love being "Pinned" (having my stuff shared on Pinterest)....

      Delete
  6. What about jell-o jigglers,and puddings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yum! Great idea Patty- I hadn't thought of that. Remember the Jello Pudding Pops? I used to love those, I don't know why they stopped making them.

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  7. I never thought of using the ice try for anything but ice, these are great ideas, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome! By the way, I love your name- I'm a "slow quilter" too and I wish I was faster! :)

      Delete
  8. Great ideas! I just used a Tbs. of tomato paste last week and put the rest in a container, and knew it was going to go bad.

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  9. Oh wow I love this. I never knew you could freeze egg yolks or white or cilantro. I've always got half a bunch of cilantro left over and can never use up before going bad.
    Thanks for sharing these ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The egg yolk is a bit thickened when you defrost it, but it's fine for scrambled eggs, etc. I also hardly ever use up a whole bunch of cilantro at a time, so this works well for me.

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  11. Love little Koda! Love cilantro. I put it in salad and use it for tacos a lot.

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