« Nick's Notes

Nick's Tip: Look To The Freezer

by Nick Vitrano

I like a lot of ice in my drinks, so when it comes to the standard 2 ice trays included with a refrigerator purchase, I'm always left wanting/needing more. Of course, great for ice, but don't limit them (or you) by locking them into a singular use. Look at your ice cube tray as a vessel for preservation and convenience. You can freeze plenty of products that are nearing expiration, and also break down larger freezable items into single-serve sizes.

  • Freeze fruit juices, smoothies, and even hot chocolate to make pops or to make cool flavored cubes to add to kid (and adult) drinks. Making popsicles with my mom and siblings is one of favorite childhood summer memories.
  • Speaking of adult drinks: freeze juices, coffee, and leftover wine for iced additions to your chilled drinks, or just perfectly portioned single servings for later. Frozen wine cubes are great to have on-hand for cooking, as well. Need a little merlot or cabernet for that pasta sauce? There you go.
  • Cookie dough: How nice are those pre-portioned, fundraiser cookie dough boxes? Tasty, but mostly convenient...and you pay for it. I'm lookin' at you, Mr. Murphy. Make a superbatch of cookie dough and press it into the ice cube trays for your own, homemade "fundraiser" stash.
  • Make flavor pack boosters: So those little butter and oil saute flavor packs that cost a fortune? They are great and really handy, but what they are not is cheap. Again, you're paying for convenience. Make your own by tossing fresh or dried herbs and seasonings in the tray, fill with butter or oil, and freeze.
  • Baby food: Whether you make your own or you purchase in the store, spoon it into the trays and freeze away to preserve that which is nearing expiration or the mass batch you just whipped up.
  • Sauces: Pasta, pesto, even cream sauces (made with heavy cream or buttermilk - thin sauces will not freeze well)...whatever. Make your own or (again) freeze the Prego nearing its use-by date.
  • Sushi press: All right - not for everybody, but if you're into sushi... A friend of mine does this for parties and the end result is a pretty cool looking appetizer tray. Just line a cube tray with the sticky rice, add your filling, press the rice over the top. Bam. Sushi. Spray the tray with cooking spray to help you pop out the individual servings.
  • Stock/broth: All right, basically the same as everything so far, but stocks and broths freeze perfectly, and sometimes you need just a little.

So yeah...not crazy mind blowing here today - just a useful reminder about that little 2 Tbsp divider in your freezer.

UPDATE : Thanks to the ol' text machine, a listener submitted this great use - freeze aloe cubes to use on sunburn. Nice!