Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest

24
August
2009

Just Cube It

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Even though ice cubes have been around since the 20’s, you’d think they’re the latest, greatest invention around our house. We’ve become devout cubists. Have you got a bowl of perfectly ripe fruit that no one can possibly eat? Make juice or puree and freeze it. This time of year it’s practically impossible to keep up with the bounty from the garden even if you give away as much as you can. Recently we were the lucky recipients of a beautiful bowl of plums from Joan’s garden and then there was a fruit-laden sour cherry tree on a vacant lot Charlie spotted and couldn’t resist. We’ve been enjoying these fruity cubes ever since, popped into a frosty gin, rum or vodka tonic for a fast summertime cocktail.

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When we got married 20 years ago, Charlie brought along a hefty Champion juicer to add to our mix of mismatched kitchenware. It’s not the kind of appliance you want to have sitting out on your counter all the time but it’s perfect for times like this. He juiced all the fruit and made ice cubes even before those pesky fruit flies could start to multiply (more on how to eliminate fruit flies later). His motivation is clearly with seasonal fruit cocktails in mind but even if you don’t partake, ice cubes are the fastest, easiest form of food preservation I know of.

If you don’t have a juicer, don’t worry. You can use a blender or food processor to puree. Freeze fruit as a puree or add water and put through a fine-mesh sieve to make juice. I juiced a luscious yellow honeydew melon with about a cup of water using a food processor. It required some pushing with a spoon to get it through the sieve but made the most beautiful cubes. Now I can easily add one or two to the peach smoothie I’ve been enjoying nearly everyday.

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Speaking of cocktails, we invented an extra-healthy one made with super powerful antioxidant ice cubes of blackberries, blueberries and beet juice. Use about 20 fresh blueberries, a small peeled beet and 10 blackberries (I used the Chester berry variety from Schuh Farms at the farmers market but wild ones are perfectly fine too as long as you strain out the seeds). Blend or process and strain through a fine-mesh strainer adding water if the mixture is too thick.

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The Berry Best Cocktail Recipe (2 drinks)

Handful of fresh blueberries

Handful of fresh blackberries

2 anti-oxidant ice cubes (recipe above)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 oz. vodka (we used Koenig Idaho potato vodka)

1/2 oz. creme de cassis

Place blueberries and blackberries to fill the bottom of your shaker. Add 1 anti-oxidant ice cube and muddle. Put lemon juice, vodka, creme de cassis and remaining anti-oxidant ice cube in the shaker. Shake.

Fill glasses with cracked ice cubes. Divide drink from shaker into 2 glasses. Top off with tonic and garnish with blue or blackberry and thin slice of lemon.

I feel healthier already!

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More great ways to save by freezing in ice cube trays: freeze leftover red wine, broth, pesto, herbs — especially cilantro, parsley & mint — chop and cover with a small amount of water or oil, baby food, tomato sauce, etc. The list goes on and on. Use a yogurt container to make larger flavored cubes for sangria or punches. Muffin tins work too. Just freeze whatever you can’t eat right away in cubes, remove from the tray and save in a freezer proof bag or container. Not a bad idea to label as well.

A wonderful book I checked out of the library has lots of recipes for unusual water drinks and ice cubes. Cool Waters by Brian Preston-Campbell.

And oh, I almost forgot to tell you about the trick I learned to get rid of those pesky fruit flies. Fill a small bowl or cup with a squirt of dishwashing soap, a little water and apple cider vinegar. Cover the top with plastic wrap, secure with a rubber band and punch a few small holes for them to crawl in. I don’t know how you feel about torturing these harmless insects but a little population control can’t hurt.


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9 Responses »

  1. In the fall, I made similar cubes from all the apples that were taking over my home, and now I am doing the same with peaches, and have done so with this summer’s basil. It is wonderful to be able to pop a quick cube in the mouth on a hot day.
    And thanks for the tip on the fruit fly control. I slowly figured out that they will die from Comet or similar soap being scattered around, but your method sounds much neater. I will make up a bowl this morning.

  2. That was a fantastic cocktail!

  3. Mangochild, I got so carried away with the cocktail I forgot to mention popsicles. Thanks for reminding me.
    Krista, It was great wasn’t it! I’m glad you liked it.

  4. I have enjoyed a number of your cocktails, Charlie and Poppy, and the fruit retains its freshness when frozen this way. I love them.
    I have frozen pesto in ice cube trays, but not simply basil. How have you, Poppy or Mangochild (or anyone else?), successfully done basil? Simply with water?

  5. Bob, Jerry Traunfeld says to puree basil with olive oil (like making pesto without the cheese, garlic & nuts). Use 1/4 cup olive oil for each cup of gently packed leaves. Let me know how it goes if you try it.

  6. What a terrific idea for the abundance of melon and other summer fruit available right now. As always, beautiful photos, too. Thanks.

  7. Thank you, Audrey. I need to get a watermelon this weekend at the farmers market and try that!

  8. Great post! Your produce looks amazing! And thanks for the mention, I’m happy to hear my little book has made it into libraries.

  9. Brian, I’m so glad you found us. I love your book and will have to buy my own copy since I’ve checked it out so many times. There are lots of recipes I’d still like to try!