Use A Paper Bag To Prevent Ice Cubes From Sticking Together

Have you ever released your homemade ice cubes from their trays into containers for later use, only to find that they've somehow melted, re-frozen, and fused together in a giant lump? Then, of course, comes the task of either pulling them apart by hand or hitting them with a hammer or icepick to return them to usable pieces.

Though crushed ice is perfect for slushies and drinks that require a little dilution, like mint juleps, it doesn't quite work with other beverages, where a slower melt with bigger cubes is preferred. So, what's the solution to this annoying little problem, I hear you ask?

Why, it's the brown paper bag your mom used to pack your lunch in. In fact, any bag will work as long as it's made of paper and is large enough to accommodate your ice cubes. To get started, prep your ice as normal using a plastic or silicone ice cube tray or ice maker, if you have one. Then, empty the cubes into the bag, fold over its top, and pop it in the freezer. 

Store ice cubes in the coldest part of the freezer

Storing the bag towards the back (or at the bottom if you have a chest-style freezer) where it's colder will minimize the risk of the ice cubes melting, sticking together, and re-freezing into one piece. The paper will also absorb some of the extra moisture in the air, preventing the cubes from clumping. If the bag becomes damaged, replace it with another to guarantee that your ice cubes remain perfectly distinct. Bear in mind that ice can absorb smells, so make sure other containers of food in the freezer are well sealed to prevent odors from permeating through their surface.

This paper bag trick works so well that you can forgo buying bags of ice at the supermarket before a party if you'll be entertaining a large crowd. Simply prep and stash away your ice cubes well in advance without worrying about needing to smash an unwieldy lump of ice with a rolling pin mere moments before your guests arrive. All you need to do is freeze your ice in stages over the course of a few days, each time adding more to the paper bag, and you'll have beautifully separate cubes ready for punch bowls, cocktails, and sodas. And there's no reason not to have a trio of bags to store plain, novelty-shaped, and infused ice cubes to lend your summer drinks a little attitude.