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The Ice Topic: Crushed, Cracked, Cubes, Balls, Alternatives

222 posts in this topic

You'll probably have the best luck making clear ice cubes doing this:

1. Use distilled water (this makes sure there are no minerals which could cause clouding).

2. Boil the water (this gets rid of any dissolved gasses which could cause bubbles).

3. Use the water immediately after boiling (this makes sure that the minimum amount of gas is re-dissolved into the water, and also will cause the ice to form more slowly -- both of which result in better clarity).

4. Make the ice cubes in layers (this makes it less likely that any remaining gasses will be trapped in the ice as the water freezes and the gas comes out of solution).

5. Open the freezer and agitate the ice trays every 5 minutes or so to release any bubbles that may be forming.

This is an awful lot of work just to get clear ice cubes at home. And, of course, clear ice cubes are not any better than cloudy ice cubes when it comes to chilling in the shaker for an "up" drink. So, I could see maybe taking a lot of trouble to make one tray of clear ice and using that ice exclusively for rocks drinks. 1, 2 and 3 will already make a big difference compared to regular tap water. 4 and 5 are for fanatics. :smile:


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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[...]

3. Use the water immediately after boiling (this makes sure that the minimum amount of gas is re-dissolved into the water, and also will cause the ice to form more slowly -- both of which result in better clarity).

[...]

What about the Mpemba Effect?

The fact that hot water freezes faster than cold has been known for many centuries.  The earliest reference to this phenomenon dates back to Aristotle in 300 B.C.  The phenomenon was later discussed in the medieval era, as European physicists struggled to come up with a theory of heat.  But by the 20th century the phenomenon was only known as common folklore, until it was reintroduced to the scientific community in 1969 by Mpemba, a Tanzanian high school student.  Since then, numerous experiments have confirmed the existence of the "Mpemba effect", but have not settled on any single explanation.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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The Mpemba Effect is dependent on certain conditions. It would have to be a huge Mpemba Effect to freeze a tray of 98C (just off boiling temperature) water faster than a tray of 22C (room temperature) water or a tray of cool tap water at maybe 15C. In the context of a normal home freezer and plastic or latex ice cube trays I don't think the conditions would be right for a Mpemba Effect of this magnitude.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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You'll probably have the best luck making clear ice cubes doing this:

1. Use distilled water (this makes sure there are no minerals which could cause clouding).

Sam,

I've always heard/read that for things like making coffee/tea/stock etc., distilled water should generally not be used, due to it's lack of anything in terms of a flavor profile. Wouldn't the same hold true for ice cubes - I mean, not that you want to add any unwanted flavors to a drink, but some water actually tastes better than others...I mean, it tastes like we expect water to taste - I'd much rather drink from the tap in NY than drink distilled water.

Thoughts?


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Tasty Travails - My Blog

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Sure. Personally I think most distilled water tastes terrible. I wouldn't necessarily recommend making water out of distilled water if taste is an important consideration. I'd recommend a nice, sweet, relatively soft water that's been filtered to remove chlorine. You know... like filtered NYC tap water.

My recommendations were only applicable to the goal of creating maximally clear ice cubes with normal home equipment (which I personally don't think is worth pursuing, but to each his own).


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Maybe I am being too pick by trying to get nice clear ice at home. The fact is that distilled water isn't very nice for drinks in my opinion. But clear cubes do look more appealling in an old fashioned somehow :rolleyes: Maybe it's time to start saving for an ice machine.....


"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. " - Marie Curie Sklodowska

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Instead of boiling, has anyone tried the suggestion to thoroughly chill the water as close to freezing as possible before freezing?

Any observable difference?

Gonna have to make a trip to IKEA this weekend...


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Erik, where does that suggestion come from?

Chilling the water close to freezing (e.g., to 3 degrees C) before putting it into the freezer would mean that the water would freeze very rapidly once it was exposed to the subzero environment. I can imagine that this would lead to increased trapping of gas bubbles due to the rapidity of the freezing. Also, and also because the solubility of gas in water goes up as temperature goes down. So, e.g., 3C water can hold more dissolved gas than 90C water. This is important because solubility radically changes as water undergoes a phase change from liquid to solid and the gas comes out of solution.

This may be one way that johnder's "twice frozen" water example from London works. In the initial freezing, gas is driven out of the ice. Then, if the ice is quickly melted to a low temperature for a brief period of time and quickly refrozen, it may re-freeze with fewer trapped bubbles.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Erik, where does that suggestion come from?

Chilling the water close to freezing (e.g., to 3 degrees C) before putting it into the freezer would mean that the water would freeze very rapidly once it was exposed to the subzero environment.  I can imagine that this would lead to increased trapping of gas bubbles due to the rapidity of the freezing.  Also, and also because the solubility of gas in water goes up as temperature goes down.  So, e.g., 3C water can hold more dissolved gas than 90C water.  This is important because solubility radically changes as water undergoes a phase change from liquid to solid and the gas comes out of solution.

This may be one way that johnder's "twice frozen" water example from London works.  In the initial freezing, gas is driven out of the ice.  Then, if the ice is quickly melted to a low temperature for a brief period of time and quickly refrozen, it may re-freeze with fewer trapped bubbles.

It was from the wikipedia article I linked above, (and we know how reliable the wikipedia can be).

I was wondering about the solubility of gas thing, wasn't sure if gas leaving frozen water was as a result of the crystallization or if, as the apparently incorrect wikpedia article suggests, gas is less soluble in cold water.

Thanks for clarifying!


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Cocktails and Ice -- how far do you go?

Well, at least to the new Daiso store in Daly City.

gallery_27569_3448_34735.jpg

Evidently large cubes are fascinating to cats, as well.

gallery_27569_3448_34210.jpg

Clear instructions.

gallery_27569_3448_7587.jpg

Not sure what these warnings say, though. Anyone able to translate?

gallery_27569_3448_32442.jpg

Will report back on how they work.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Got the Japanese ice trays out of the bags last night and tried to fill them.

The "Ice Tray Rock Type" is pretty much useless. It has no snap or any other function to hold the top tray onto the bottom one. You'd have to put a C Clamp or rubber band on it, I suppose.

Second tray may have worked. Though, the fact that it is made out of hard plastic may make getting it apart without breaking the plastic difficult. We'll see about that later this evening.

Fortunately, they were both really cheap...


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Machines I saw at Hoteres Japan the last few years took a larger block of ice and a die/mold of some sort and I believe melted that into the right shape... usually large spheres, soccer balls, etc.


Jason Truesdell

Blog: Pursuing My Passions

Take me to your ryokan, please

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Some Ice stuff from the Alconomics manual via Pete Kendall (ex Milk and Honey)

The double freezing of ice is a useful technique in creating super dense, super clear ice. Why double freeze? From a single freezing, ice will go to the temperature of the freezer. The gas (oxygen, nitrogen, etc…) that has been absorbed into an aqueous form will collect into small ‘bubblets’ that will further join with other ‘bubblets’ to form bubbles into the semi-frozen ice mass. If this is left to melt, the bubbles of (now un-dissolved) gas will escape from the water so on re-freezing the ice will be denser and clearer without the ‘mist’ of fine bubbles within the ice. A third and fourth re-freezing of the ice will only clarify the ice further and make even harder, clearer ice.

The freezing of the slabs of ice is best done if plastic containers due to their flexibility (helpful while trying to take the slab of ice out of the container) and cost. Ice will also stick to metal easier than to plastic due to its thermo-elastic properties. Depending on the mineral qualities of the water you are using to freeze into slabs, the containers will need regular cleaning to remove any limescale/mineral deposits that, if left uncleaned, can contaminate the ice with flakes of white mineral deposits.

From a service point of view, the in-bar freezing of ice can allow for several different types of ice to be made (e.g. Ice from Evian, from Ty Nant and from Highland Spring) to cater for even the most discerning customers. The water used can be chosen for its softness, its ‘bite’ or any other characteristics required by the bar/customers.

Home freezing of waters can also allow for fruit infusions or flavoured waters to be used. Orange blossom water and rose flower water are commonly available – a 7-10 drop addition to a litre of water will give a hint of fruit and slowly express itself more and more as the ice melts. The ice melting will also open more flavours from the sprit and dilute it more. Garnishing can be done inside the ice sphere using suspension techniques. If using a reservoir of multi-frozen ice, you can fill a sphere mould one third up, freeze, place the garnish (orange blossom, fruit, herb, etc…) in the middle and fill. On the completion of the freezing the fruit or herb will be ‘suspended’ in the centre of the ice. If the fruit/herb/flower suspension floats, add it at the first stage of the freezing (the first 1/3) where it will settle at the top (e.g. A rose petal). You can then add the second 2/3 of the water go gain the same effect. Fruit spirals can be used to a good visual effect. A 15cm channel cut length of lemon peel will spiral through the whole sphere as it will relax after its initial insertion into the sphere mould.

aw

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Interesting, Angus. A few questions:

1. At what temperature is the ice typically melted before refreezing?

2. How long is the ice held at the >0C temperature before refreezing?

3. How thorougly is the ice melted? Completely? Only to the point where the bubbles are filled with water?

I'll have to do some experiments at home. In particular, I'd be interested to see how twice-frozen ice stacks up against boiled and once-frozen ice using the same water.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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On the cheap and easy at home front, I use single-serving plastic applesauce containers to make big cubes for rocks drinks. They're flat on the bottom so they don't roll into your teeth.

<img src=" 449732029_ffaceded53.jpg?v=0">


Camper English, Alcademics.com

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Dear All,

here is the video of the first ice ball I ever saw hand carved.

re the questions re double freezing...

best done slowly but when meting as lognas it goes above freezing til all melted then thats fine.

aw

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here is the video of the first ice ball I ever saw hand carved.

Vewry cool, Angus! Some observations and questions: It took that guy almost 5 minutes just to make the ice ball, and that's before he started making the drink. How many cusomers does a bar like that serve? Also, how much would he charged for a drink at that bar? Is the ice-ball drink more expensive?

I could see something like this working at a very small, expensive bar like Milk & Honey here in Chinatown (indeed, I once had a great Old Fashioned there where the bartender took a big lump of ice and chipped it down to barely fit into the glass). But I can't see how it would work in a bigger place that did any more volume. I suppose you could pre-carve and store the ice balls in the freezer (which would actually make for higher quality ice), but clearly the making of the ice ball is part of what you pay for. Angus: The bartender didn't seem to be going to any particular trouble to make sure the customer could see him working on the ice ball (doing some of it hunched over a bar sink, for example). Isn't this supposed to be part of the show?

re the questions re double freezing...

best done slowly but when meting as lognas it goes above freezing til all melted then thats fine.

Hmm. I guess I have a hard time understanding why the water wouldn't simply reabsorb gas once it went back into liquid form. And since cold water can hold more dissolved gas than warm water, this seems almost counterproductive. And yet, I guess people wouldn't do it if it didn't have some effect. I'm going to have to do some experimentation.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I have to assert again that Japanese style bartending, tho fascinating for anyone who has an interest in the 'mixological arts', really wonly works in Japan... or places that I would call Japanese influenced.

As to it all being part of the show... I asked for them to carve me a ball and thats how they did it... so its obviosuly not that important... it was a junior bartender who did it not a Master.

I loved it and I know that even just serving people ice balls or 'chunk ice' via the double freezing method makes them go wow...

re Double Freezing... my thought the water does not get re-saturated for the same reason that you need a pump in a fishtank that breaks the surface tension to oxygenate the water...

aw

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The cocktail lounge SM23, in Morristown, New Jersey, uses those large spheres of ice in some of its cocktails. They use molds purchased in Japan by their cocktail consultant, Grant Collins of Bar Solutions in Australia.

gallery_1_295_32587.jpg

When Collins was setting up the cocktail program at SM23, he told me that these large ice spheres are popular in Japan not only for their aesthetic and theatrical interest, but also because they can keep a drink cold for several hours with far less watering down than ice cubes would cause. Apparently many Japanese like to sit with a glass of whiskey with one of these large ice spheres in it for three or four hours and sip and contemplate while watching a musical performance or whatever.

For those of you in the Greater New York Metro Area, it might be a worthwhile expedition to check out Collins's work at SM23, because there seem to be a lot of Pacific Rim cocktail trends on display there.

SM23

Bar * Lounge

88 Headquarters Plaza

1 Speedwell Avenue

Morristown, NJ, 07960

Tel: 973-871-2323


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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re Double Freezing... my thought the water does not get re-saturated for the same reason that you need a pump in a fishtank that breaks the surface tension to oxygenate the water...

Yea, maybe. That's what I'd like to see. We all know that if we leave a glass of wine or bourbon out overnight, it ends up plenty oxygenated.

I can definitely see how freezing and re-freezing would result in less dissolved gas than using water that had just come out of the tap (especially one with an aerator). But I'm less certain it will work better than using boiled water, and I'd like to experiment with taking boiling water directly to the freezer.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Gotta love the Collins... every time I go to Oz I have to take him ice molds and now he is bringing them back...

aw

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Thinking about ice lately.

From what I can tell, electricity wasn't widely available in the US until some time in the 1940s.*

Home refrigerators took off at about the same time.**

Ice in cube form followed a bit after that of home refrigerators.***

Not sure when commercial ice cube makers became common. Anyone know?

It seems likely bartenders would have been carving up big blocks of ice until the 1940s or later.

Is that accurate?

*History of the U.S. Electric Power Industry, 1882-1991

**History of Refrigerators

***The long history of ice cubes


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Thinking about ice lately.

From what I can tell, electricity wasn't widely available in the US until some time in the 1940s.*

Home refrigerators took off at about the same time.**

Ice in cube form followed a bit after that of home refrigerators.***

Not sure when commercial ice cube makers became common.  Anyone know?

It seems likely bartenders would have been carving up big blocks of ice until the 1940s or later.

Is that accurate?

*History of the U.S. Electric Power Industry, 1882-1991

**History of Refrigerators

***The long history of ice cubes

From some historical evidence that I can't quite put a finger on at the moment and significantly more anecdotal evidence from elderly family members I think the 1940s would have been about right for electricity to become available in rural areas, though I imagine it was available in larger cities at least 20 years prior, if not by the turn of the century (at least in fancy places like hotels with bars). Bringing electricity to rural areas was a big part of the New Deal programs, if I'm not mistaken, so having it become widespread by 1940 or so makes sense. As for it being in blocks until relatively recently, that seems somewhat likely. I remember as a little kid there being a place in the town where my grandparents live that would do home delivery of block ice on request. Perhaps even with electricity and mechanical refridgeration some bars and hotels had ice delivered, which they then had the means to keep cold indefinitely. In my mind, the concept kind of fits with the time, though I don't have the slightest clue if it's true or not.

-Andy


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Eje, any luck with the second ice tray?

Anyone else have any leads on where to purchase effective ice cube -- or sphere, rather -- trays?

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I was able to pick up the tray on the left from my local Daiso in Richmond, BC. It works decently. The top and bottom trays don't quite lock together tightly due to water pressure. Therefore when your three ice balls come out, they're connected by a thin sheet of ice. This can be easily broken away, but this does throw off the shape of the spheres, which become slightly oblongated due to the small gap between the top and bottom trays.

Overall it works well, and is much easier than hand carving one. :raz:

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