It is well known that ice cube trays are not just for making ice cubes!
They are also very useful to avoid food waste and save time while cooking since they can be used to freeze small portions of food and liquids.
Some foods to freeze come quickly to mind, but others are less well known.
Here are 12 foods that freeze well in ice cube trays to make life in the kitchen easier and to prevent food waste !
Some tips for freezing food in ice cube trays
- I always measure how much food one cavity in an ice tray can hold. It makes the frozen food easier to use in recipes since I know that this particular one, for instance, make ice cubes that correspond to 1 tsb.
- Ideally, I try to reuse the same ice cube trays for foods that smell strong like garlic, especially if you don’t have a dishwasher to get rid of the smell afterwards. This will prevent your lemon juice from having a little aftertaste of garlic!
- Once the food is frozen, you can either unmold it and place it a freezer bag or leave the trays as is in the freezer, depending on the space and quantity of ice tray you have.
Which models should be used for freezing food?
It helps to have multiple sizes of ice cube trays, in order to freeze different types of food.
The “classic” hard plastic ice cube tray works well, but is not the easiest when it comes to removing the ice cubes.
I really like the silicone ones, more flexible, that allow easy removing and the ones with a lid that protect the surface of the food in the freezer. Trays with lids can also be stacked more easily.
For larger portions, you can also opt for muffin tins.
The following are perfect models for freezing food:
12 foods to freeze in ice cube trays
1. Lemon juice
Lemons do not last forever so to avoid wasting them, you can squeeze the lemon juice and freeze it in ice trays.
By taking care to measure how much liquid corresponds to one cavity in the ice tray (for example 1 teaspoon of juice), they can thus be easily added to dishes, dressings and other recipes.
You can also freeze the juice of oranges, limes and grapefruit the same way.
2. Citrus zest
You can also freeze the grated zest of citrus fruits for later use in recipes, like this grilled turkey cutlets with lemon, capers and white wine sauce recipe.
Garlic is another food that does not last forever (and that can be quite expensive).
To avoid to waste them and to save time in the kitchen, finely chop the garlic cloves, with a knife or a garlic press, and freeze each chopped clove in an ice cube mold.
Once again, when cooking, all you need to do is take out an “ice cube of chopped garlic” and add it directly into your dish. As a bonus, no more garlic smell on your fingers.
There are many ways to store herbs, and freezing is a very popular one since not all herbs benefit from being dried.
In an ice cube tray, you can freeze chopped basil, parsley, chives, etc. that you can add directly from the freezer to sauces, soups or stir-fries.
You can add a little olive oil into the tray, but I often skip this step.
5. Leftover broth
Rather than wasting leftover chicken or vegetable broth, you can freeze it for a future usage, adding it in a soup or sauces. I would tend to prefer the muffin tins to freeze broth in order to have larger portions.
6. Leftover wine
The same logic applies for leftover red or white wine. Rather than forcing yourself to finish the bottle, freeze leftovers for future use, for a mussel recipe or to add to sauces.
7. Tomato paste
You probably already know this one ; freezing leftover tomato paste. It is indeed quite rare that tomato paste in cans are used all at once in a recipe, hence its popularity.
Ideally, use ice cube trays that hold 1 tsp. tablespoon of tomato paste, an amount often used in recipes.
Another very practical use of ice cube trays is to freeze pesto. This applies to homemade pesto or store-bought ones.
All that remains is to take out an ice cube of pesto to add to our dishes!
9. Spinach, swiss chard and other leafy green vegetables
This one has been of great use to me this summer when I no longer knew how to cook the Swiss chard and spinach I had grown.
Start by bleaching the greens for a few minutes, run in cold water to keep the color and let them drain well. Do not hesitate to press them with your hands to get rid of all the water.
Then chop everything and put it in ice cube trays.
It’s super convenient when you want to add a portion of vegetables to rice, pasta, sauces, pizzas, turkey or kiev chicken, oysters au gratin, soups or stir-fries.
Again, the muffin pan can be a great option for larger portions.
Not everyone knows this, but applesauce freezes well. It’s super practical to add in some dessert recipes but also for an express snack (it’s delicious when it’s still a little frozen!).
Eggs also freeze well, without their shell.
As many recipes often only call for a white or an egg yolk, it’s a great way to keep the leftover eggs. You can also freeze your eggs (without the shell) if they are about to expire.
12. Cookie dough
Last but not least, the cookie dough! Already proportioned, all you have to do is remove it from the tray and put it in the oven to obtain homemade cookies in a wink.