Going up as a kid in the 50′s meant that refrigerators did not have ice makers. There were no fancy buttons and doors on the front of the refrigerator to dispense ice to the hot and dusty children. No, back then we had metal ice cube trays that were fun to operate since there was a lever in the middle to release the ice.
It made a wonderful cracking noise when you finally got the ice to release. The lever was attached to a grid section of metal leaves that was separate from the tray. The grid section was put in the tray, water was added, tray with grid was placed in the freezer section, hours went by and the frozen tray was removed.
Now the fun part was getting the lever to release the ice. If you put a bit too much water in the tray, as I always managed to do, the ice was up and over the grid, making it hard to release the ice cubes. After much tugging, groaning and maybe a little run under some water, the lever would move, ice would shatter from the top of the cubes and drinking cool water and iced tea would begin. Wonderful time!
Now that we have automatic ice makers, we have almost forgotten how wonderful ice cube trays are. When we were kids, Mother would add orange juice or apple juice and occasionally Kool-Aid to the trays for a cold summery addition to water, juice or sweet iced tea. Remembering those flavored cold additions to our beverages as a child got me to thinking about what we could do today. Kids are still kids when it comes to liking cold drinks after play.
I went to the store, found some plastic ice cube trays, and have been making my own filtered ice all summer! I had forgotten the fun of popping the ice from the tray, even in plastic. My favorite benefit of not using the in-freezer ice maker is the taste of the ice, or should I say, the lack of taste of the ice. I use a Shaklee Get Clean Water Pitcher which is an amazing filter system, getting out a multitude of pesticides, herbicides, 99% of the lead and more, leaving me with water as it should be, clean and “taste free”. The automatic ice maker, with the puny in-refrigerator filter always gave the ice a “whang” (Southern for icky taste!).
Now that I make my own ice, with my 3 ice cube trays, I fill the dispenser each day and let the crusher on the freezer do it’s magic as I really like crushed ice. The true flavor of my iced water, iced tea and iced coffee come through each time. Yummy!
But even more fun are the additions to the clean, filtered water in the trays! Mother was always adding juice to the trays so her punches for parties would not water down. Same thing with iced tea. Now I suggest that you make a pot of your favorite tea and then make several trays of frozen tea cubes for use in your iced tea. Make tea, freeze, remove from trays to store in a freezer bag or container with air-tight lid. Makes the tea even better.
Freeze your favorite lemonade to add to iced tea or other beverages. Think of all those “adult” beverages that are make in the fall and winter at the various tailgate, harvest and holiday parties we throw. That little extra touch makes the drink that much more special and the ice cube tray an essential in any kitchen!
Just think of all the things you can freeze in the ice cube trays! Cut little pieces of strawberries and blueberries in orange juice for use in morning protein shakes or other beverages. For a savory cube for some of those adult beverages you could add celery or small onions, yellow & red peppers. And for those fall stews, fill those trays with you chicken, beef or vegetable stocks for a quick infusion of flavor in future meals. Freeze and store most any liquid for use at a later date in convenient, easy to use cubes! Just label the containers since frozen broth in iced tea would not be ideal.
Let your imagination run wild! What will you freeze for your next party? Your next family reunion? Your Thanksgiving dinner? Miniature frozen salads? Miniature ice creams? Miniature pop-icicles? You can find the metal trays from my childhood online at several retailers. Or look in your favorite kitchen shop or variety store for the plastic versions. Enjoy the Wonders of the Ice Cube Tray!