Cold ice is a luxury that many of us just don't appreciate until we are in the middle of a scorching hot day and can't get any.
While most of us take ice for granted ice has only been available to the masses since about the 1920's when household refrigerators and freezers became popular.
While ice was available before this time it was pricey, the cost was more expensive than some meat and dairy products.
With our modern fridges and freezers ice is easy for us to make so why not use ice in interesting ways when you are entertaining during the heat of the summer.
Ice is such a simple thing to make but it can be a stunning centerpiece when you entertain. Everyone is familiar with beautiful ice sculptures at wedding and catered events but you don't have to be that artistic to make something interesting.
Any container that has some flexibility to it can be used to freeze ice. Glass and ridged plastic should never be used as when the water freezes it will expand and it can break glass and ridged plastics.
Ideally you would want to use a flexible plastic like the type used in disposable water bottles. This flexible plastic will let the water freeze to ice and expand a little outward and some upward.
Because of the expanding you should never fill whatever container you use to the top. Give it some room to "grow".
Ice made in a home freezer tends to be cloudy because of the trapped air and minerals in the water. Even if you use distilled water you will get this cloudiness. Commercial ice is clear because they use a different method to freeze the ice.
While clear ice is lovely the cloudiness of your homemade ice makes it easily recognized as ice and not a block of plastic.
Using large blocks of ice is very convenient as they take much longer to melt.
They are ideal for using in tubs to hold cold drinks as it takes several hours for a block of ice to melt (kept out of the sun).
These two giant ice cubes where made from square fruit juice bottles.
It took the water about 24 hours to freeze solid. Your freezing time will depend on the temperature you freezer is set at and if your freezer is in good working order.
I cut the tops off the bottles before I poured in the water to make it easier to get the ice out.
Because the bottles had ridges in them I had to cut them off the frozen blocks of ice.
I added small freezer ice cubes and water and the large blocks took about 6 hours to melt (the tub was out of the sun and it was a warm day).
You can also use large blocks of ice for decoration as it keeps food cold.
Here two large blocks of ice are on a tray that is filled with ice cubes and has small bowls ready to have chilled shrimp added to them.
The tray is several inches deep as it needs to hold the water from the melting of the large blocks.
As this display will only be out for a short amount of time and was not contaminated by food the large blocks of ice can be put back in the freezer and used again.
I find tuna cans to be the ideal size for freezing puck sized ice cubes.
I clean the used tuna cans and run them once through the dishwasher and they are clean of all odors.
If you only fill them up 3/4 with water you will be able to stack two of each in the freezer.
This large size makes them ideal for lining a bowl with ice and placing another bowl on top to keep the contents of the second bowl cool. Great for salads especially ones with mayonnaise that should be kept cool.
These pucks are also great for making giant ice cubes by whacking them with an ice pick (when was the last time you read ice pick outside a murder mystery). The rough look of the broken ice gives you drinks a sophisticated look.
Large ice cubes like this are preferred by Scotch connoisseurs as they cool the Scotch without diluting it.
Large ice cubes are also good for drinks like Black Russians.
If you want to make large sized rounded ice cubes then you can use the containers from cottage cheese or sour cream.
If you only fill them up 3/4 of the way you will be able to put the lids on and stack them in the freezer.
Look around your kitchen to see what other shapes you can use.
This large block shaped piece of ice is used to keep a berry selection cool.
The bowls are resting in indents in the ice so they will stay stable.
The indents are easy to do. Heat the bottom of the bowl that you want to use with hot water and press it into the spot where you want the indent to be. You will have to do this several times. I also filled the bowl with hot water to speed things up.
With just a bit of water and sometime in the freezer you can make fun and interesting ice shapes for your summer entertaining.
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Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2012