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April 18, 2008 4:03 PM   Subscribe

How can I improve the taste of the ice cubes in my freezer?

I do a lot of my cooking in bulk, making enough food for several meals and then freezing whatever I don't eat immediately. Right now I have a lot of heavily-seasoned savory foods stored in the freezer, and their scent is permeating my ice cubes and giving the ice a really unpleasant aftertaste. As much as I love french onion soup, I'd rather not taste it in my strawberry lemonade.

All of my frozen foods are pretty well wrapped/insulated , I think - the solid foods are wrapped in aluminum foil and then sealed in plastic freezer bags, and the soups/stews are in small plastic Tupperware-like containers within freezer bags of their own.

So, is there any way to keep the flavors of my frozen food out of my ice completely as the summer months approach?
posted by arianell to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
the green way:

1. find large, flat tupperware container
2. put ice tray in the said container.
3. lock'n seal container (obviously, step 2.5 being fill the ice-tray with water).

the not-so green way:

1. buy plastic bag-type ice trays.
posted by ddaavviidd at 4:11 PM on April 18, 2008

Baking soda. They sell it in boxes for fridge and freezer. But I've also heard that baking soda is a fairly weak odor absorber.

It's dirt cheap, though, so you'll only be out a couple of bucks if it doesn't work.
posted by dw at 4:20 PM on April 18, 2008

But I've also heard that baking soda is a fairly weak odor absorber.

in addition to putting the box of baking soda in the freezer, im wondering if it would work any better if you were to sprinkle generously around the floor of the freezer in order to increase the surface area?

(although you would then have to sweep your freezer periodically, so maybe thats not so helpful - just throwin it out there)
posted by gcat at 4:38 PM on April 18, 2008

How about a vacuum sealer for your food? I use mine all the time (I buy in bulk a ton and also tend to overcook), and I don't have a problem anymore with scented ice cubes.
posted by houseofdanie at 4:41 PM on April 18, 2008

charcoal is a good odour absorber i've heard.

put your food in sealed bags/boxes! or ice trays. whichever is more convenient.
posted by Xianny at 4:46 PM on April 18, 2008

Best answer: Charcoal is, as Xianny says, a good odor absorber. Accordingly, I take the old filters from my water-filtration pitcher, let them dry out, and pop 'em in the freezer. It's a tidy and inexpensive (well, free, since I'm already buying them for the primary use) way to get some charcoal in the freezer.

I have zero science to back this up, but my freezer does smell better.
posted by Elsa at 5:00 PM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

the easiest way to do it is good quality covered tupperware icecube trays. They really work.
posted by cosmicbandito at 5:13 PM on April 18, 2008

You could make ice cubes overnight, and the next day empty the trays into clean plastic bags.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:30 PM on April 18, 2008

Don't store stinky things in the refrigerator?
posted by gjc at 5:33 PM on April 18, 2008

do you have any stinky stuff in the fridge? sometimes when we use half an onion and then put the rest in the fridge--in a sealed container--it still stinks up my ice and makes me stabby.

just a thought.

otherwise, i'm so excited that someone else loves their ice as much as i do!
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:22 PM on April 18, 2008

I've owned a lot of refrigerators in my life, and almost all of them seem to keep the odors out of the fridge better than the freezer. (My theory is that there is some sort of odor control system in the fridge that doesn't reach to the freezer. Many of them brag of this feature, and you'd think it involves some kinda activated carbon thing, but I don't know.) Whatever it is, it doesn't work very well in the freezer.
I have used a flat container of baking soda with a large surface area, and it helps. What works the best is to take charcoal briquets and smack them with a hammer to increase the surface area, and put them in something to expose it to the most airflow. A plastic container with a lot of holes in the lid works well. You can buy acitivated charcoal at the fish store that works wonderfully.
It sounds like you need a two-pronged approach. I'd put smashed charcoal briquets in the freezer and do the best you can with the ice. Those Tupperware covered ice trays sound like a good option.
Even if you make clean ice and put it in plastic bags, the smell could sneak in. This is likely to require some experimentation.
Sometimes, even sealed plastic bags let scents in to the ice. You can always buy ice and try to seal it in plastic. The long range cure is still likely to involve a lot of experimentation.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:00 PM on April 18, 2008

Don't bother with barbecue charcoal - get the activated kind. I don't believe baking soda does a damn thing, but other people clearly do.

My suggestion would be to briefly rinse the ice cubes - just fill your (ice-filled) glass with water and then pour it right back out.
posted by O9scar at 7:28 PM on April 18, 2008

Make sure you periodically toss out old ice cubes for fresh ones. Think weekly.
posted by 6:1 at 7:43 PM on April 18, 2008

Best answer: I once had a really neat ice cube tray that solved this issue perfectly.

It was basically a funny-shaped plastic bottle, with a wide-mouth, screw-top lid. One face of the bottle (it was rectangular) had a bunch of half-spherical bumps or divots in it. You filled the bottle to a line, screwed the cap on, and then turned it on its side and placed it in the freezer. The line was marked so that, when the bottle was turned on its side, there was just enough water in the bottle to fill the bumps. Those became the ice cubes. To get them out, you just smacked the bottle against something hard and dumped out your perfectly-formed cubes. You could have had a dead skunk in your freezer, and the ice would have been fine.

I thought it was brilliant. Sadly, I lost it in a move some time ago and I can't seem to find it on the market anymore. You might want to keep your eyes peeled at HomeGoods-type stores, since that's where I originally found mine.

There's a picture here, although the "buy it here" link is dead.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:22 PM on April 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding vacuum sealers. We have noticed a big reduction in cross-contaminated flavors since we started using our Foodsaver a lot. The additional upside is the vacuum packaging also eliminates freezer burned food. The downside of vacuum sealers is the bags are expensive and largely un-reuseable.

Charcoal briquettes, no. They are often imbued with petrochemicals to assist in fire-starting. Probably not a taste anyone wants in their iced tea.
posted by jamaro at 8:24 PM on April 18, 2008

Wouldn't the cheapest option be to fill the ice cube tray, the put it in a large zip loc bag? Seal it up, then when the ice is done, empty it into the bag and start the next lot.
posted by tomble at 8:35 PM on April 18, 2008

Response by poster: Great answers so far, thanks everyone. I think I'm going to try activated charcoal while and shop for a covered ice tray/bottle, since I can't afford to invest in a vacuum sealer at present.
posted by arianell at 9:39 PM on April 18, 2008

Just get one or two of these covered ice trays. I have them. They work.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:47 PM on April 18, 2008

Sigh, whenever I make ice, I wish this ice cube tray concept had made it into production. It's similar to the ice cube bottle that Kadin2048 linked but has the added feature that it stacks.
posted by junesix at 1:49 AM on April 19, 2008

I've got and use the tray Kadin mentioned above. While the ice doesn't stink, it has a relatively small payload (and, in my emptying it many many times, I broke the screwtop a long while ago. Also, it's loud as hell when getting the ice out.

I've also got a couple of the trays cunninglinguist linked, and prefer to use them most. They do definitely work. and they stack nicely.

(Also also, my friends enjoy adult beverages, a lot of them, and I picked up a small rectangular plastic bin with a lid to dump the cubes into, so that there were no more awkward slurpy sounds while we waited for the ice to be made and the drinking to resume)
posted by Busithoth at 6:19 AM on April 19, 2008

Rather than buying trays and filtering your water and reorganizing your freezer usage and changing eating habits, just buy store-bagged ice for your drinks. Seriously. If you can spare a dollar or two for a big 'ole bag of it, you'll enjoy PERFECT, flavorless, diamond clear ice (in your favorite shape no less) clinkling and a twinkling in your glass. Perfect ice elevates my generic-store-brand-lemonade drinking experience to a luxurious state of grace where I like to imagine that I am flying First Class to Rio in the 1970's. A modest indulgence that offers much simple joy.
posted by applemeat at 7:52 AM on April 19, 2008

I think ice-cube flavours are often restricted to the crusty layer on the top of the ice - or to its outer layers, at most. So I always just give ice cubes a quick wash before using them - in my hand if I'm only using a couple of cubes, by filling the glass with tapwater and then draining it if there are more. This of course wastes some of the ice, but it also strips away all of the flavours, as far as I can see.
posted by dansdata at 7:56 AM on April 19, 2008

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