Every other week, I text one of my best friends and tell her, “I have a new personality trait.” And what follows is my newest obsession in life. This week, it’s fancy ice cubes. And to be quite honest, I think this is going stick for quite some time.
Walking around my house looking for things to freeze into ice has become a 24/7 scavenger hunt that has no list of clues or end in sight. Truthfully, I love it, although I may have gotten a little bit into it. So why make fancy ice cubes? Because life is short, and everyone could use a little extra touch of whimsical aesthetic, from cocktails to tap water.
How to Make Flower Ice Cubes: Freezing Flora
Freezing flowers into ice cubes is a breeze. It's even easier than picking flowers. The most important thing when making flower ice cubes, however, is to make sure that the flower isn't poisonous. As the cube melts, the pollen, petals, and stems will be exposed to the drink, and you don't want to get sick.
Before adding your flowers to your ice cube tray, make sure the flowers are clean, just like you would any fruit or vegetable before eating. For some edible and food-safe flowers, consider using lavender, carnations, chamomile, roses, marigolds, squash blossoms, or violets. Blossoms from herbs, such as thyme, basil, or mint, are great for freezing into ice, too.
With larger flowers, you can freeze into larger molds or only use the petals in smaller molds. And just like you'd build a bouquet for a vase, you can combine different flowers into a single cube. If you're feeling fancy, you can make round floral ice to decorate your punch bowls or other large-batch drinks.
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How to Make Clear Ice Cubes
Making super clear ice cubes isn't as tricky as it seems. You don't need a fancy machine (although that helps if you know you want pounds and pounds of crystal-clear ice.) All you need is your ice mold, filtered water, and your stove top. Plus a pan or tea kettle for the water.
Why filtered water? You want to make sure there's little to nothing extra in your ice to prevent any cloudiness. So skip the fancy bottled water and grab one that has no extra minerals. Or, if you're like me, you have a water pitcher with a filter ready to go.
Once you have your water, add it to your pot or kettle and bring it to a boil. After it has come to a boil, you can remove it from the heat, then carefully add to your ice tray or mold. Don't put the try in the freezer just yet, allow it to come down to a little warmer than room temperature before placing it in the freezer.
And then you simply wait until your ice has frozen solid. Then, voila! You have clear ice.
Herbs, Fruit, and Citrus in Ice Cubes
Herbs are a safe bet when it comes to adding greenery to your cocktails without worrying about if they're safe to use. Add in sprigs of rosemary, sage, mint, or basil. Even parsley, thyme, and oregano. Whatever you have growing in your herb garden is perfect.
Layer several together or use with other fruits, too. Cut ribbons of citrus peel, use wheels and twirl them together, or layer citrus slices or wheels. You can use all one type of citrus or put several together. Of course, you can also add berries.
And, for those of us who love cucumber, you can add in cucumber slices or wheels for a refreshingly cool cube. For a pop of orange, try pieces of pumpkin or butternut squash. Add more greenery with tips of asparagus, go classic garnish in a cube by adding cocktail onions, or take things to a spicy level with jalapeño coins. If you'd use it as a cocktail garnish, it'll look lovely in a decorative ice cube.
Glitter Ice Cubes: Adding a Pop of Frozen Color
Edible glitter is a great way to add swirls of color to your ice cubes. I mean, just imagine a fizzy seltzer water with glittering and sparkling ice cubes dancing in the bubbles. Sign me up for one every day, thanks.
I did give food coloring a try, but those weren't meant to be. No matter how few drops I used, they never quite seemed to freeze without the color bleeding on everything. Including me, my clothes, and my poor mother's kitchen, which was subjected to my work experiments this week. That being said, a food-coloring frozen ice cube would be great for a Halloween or April Fool's surprise, but beware that making colorful ice cubes has messy consequences.
Fancy Ice Cube Ideas
On my fancy ice cube quest, I froze a little bit of everything. Here are a few of my unique and unusual ice cube ideas I tried out as well as a few I cannot wait to freeze into art.
When crafting up these frozen beauties, keep in mind for whom and how they'll be used. While I'm completely smitten with the game pieces, offer those and other similar ice cubes with a drink that uses a straw, and make sure you start with super clean and (if possible) food-grade pieces.
- Freeze game pieces into an ice cube. I added several pieces from Clue as well as Yahtzee dice to some ice cubes. Now, I really want to add in some Scrabble tiles, Battleship pieces, or plastic puzzle pieces.
- Gather up your Lego pieces! Freeze several into a cube or do just a few. Remember: these will float, so you may way to use and experiment with different sizes. My next round will definitely be with minifigures.
- Go festive at the holidays by using rosemary sprigs with raspberries or whole cranberries.
- If you're opting for decorative ice cubes over drinking ice cubes, you can add pine cones or use pine needles. Decorative ice cubes are perfect for punch bowls.
- Freeze decorations! I opted for small present bows, but you can use any holiday decoration. Just make sure it's clean before you get started.
- Freeze whole spices, such as cinnamon sticks or star anise.
- Fruit almost always looks fantastic frozen in ice. Skip the bananas, but try out apples, pears, kiwis, grapes, pomegranate seeds, or any other colorful fruit that's easily sliced up.
- Experiment with chunky and large ice cubes or tiny ice spheres. Keep in mind that smaller spheres will melt faster.
Don't use fancy ice cubes that contain anything that might be a choking hazard for kids' drinks.
Put Your Creativity in the Freezer
Chill your drink but make it chic with fancy ice cubes. From floral delights that'll have petals blossoming to game night cubes that'll be a hit with every player around the table. Preserve your beautiful herbs a little bit longer or give your collection of berries a new purpose. There's no wrong way to chill out with your fancy ice cubes.