Cubes of a Different Color

Fresh pureed blackberries, from the Vitamix to the trays
You might have heard of freezing homemade pesto in an ice cube tray; it allows you to thaw and use small portions at a time rather than defrosting a big block. I've expanded on this idea to freeze many of my fruit, vegetable, herb and berry harvests. Of course, I use a set of trays dedicated to freezing food vs. water. Once frozen, the individual cubes are popped out and stored in the freezer in zipper bags. This method combines small portion size, minimized freezer space, convenience for cooking from scratch, and preservation of great flavors.

Freezing my harvests into cubes has additionally proven to be the best way to preserve certain items for off-season use. Cilantro is wonderful fresh, but loses its flavor when dried. It grows best here in the winter months, so I don't have it growing to add fresh when tomatoes are ripening and I make fresh salsa. Freezing makes cilantro available when I want to use it in summertime, with its flavor as close to fresh as I've found (read below how I prepare it to freeze in cubes). Also, putting fresh harvested and cured garlic in a dark, cool place works for short term storing, but, for me, the heads eventually start to sprout or shrivel up. Freezing into cubes preserves it for me to use year-round.

Basically, any juicy produce can be chopped fine or pureed in a food processor and then frozen as cubes. If the food is not liquid enough, I add a small amount of oil or some other liquid which matches what I'm likely to put in a recipe with the pureed item. For example, I chop fresh cilantro and mix it with freshly squeezed lime juice to freeze into cubes, since I'm likely to use the cilantro in salsa or some other Mexi-inspired recipe which includes lime juice.

Jalapenos and olive oil cubes (note the gloves!)
My Vitamix, the super blender I use for smoothies and lots of other food prep, is my kitchen aide when preparing fresh raw berries for freezing into cubes. The Vitamix action is powerful enough to pulverize the the seeds of raspberries and strawberries and create a thick smooth puree, no seeds detectable. Frozen into cubes, these make a great addition to the smoothies when the fresh berries are not in season. For harvests which don't need to be so finely pulverized, I use my food processor to chop the ingredients.

Some of my favorite veggies, herbs and fruits to freeze into cubes include:
  • Basil with olive oil (no need to add parmesan cheese and pinenuts/sunflower seeds yet - just add them when you are ready to make and use the basil in a pesto sauce)
  • Peeled garlic pureed with olive oil
  • Chopped jalapeno with olive oil
  • Chopped cilantro with lime juice
  • Pureed #berries
  • Pureed fresh ginger root
  • Chopped lemon balm with lemon juice
  • Applesauce (one or two cubes are a nice portion for adding to a cup of plain yogurt)
  • Fresh juice and pulp from citrus fruits (when my Florida friends bring some from their trees :-)
I use minced #garlic very frequently, like for my Caesar Salad Dressing and for Scampi. I keep a small jar permanently in the 'fridge, popping a frozen garlic cube into the jar whenever it runs empty.

Let me know your ideas for freezing in #icecube trays!
Pureed garlic in oil on the left, chopped cilantro in lime juice on the right