There's no magic to making ice. We all know we only need two ingredients; water and cold.
But sometimes we need more than just the cubes we're all used to, and getting a proper block of ice to keep your boat food cold longer for your ice box or galley cold storage takes just a few more steps to make it workout.
There are two ways to go about creating your perfect block of ice.
Both start with finding the right container. Determine what size block you want to use in your cooler so it fits and you have the room you need for the drinks or yummy food. Some folks try using a empty 1/2 gallon or whole gallon milk jug. Great choices! I've also seen this done with 9x13 deep dish baking pans, plastic bowls, or assorted old Tupperware containers.
The key is having it set up so you can remove the ice from the container after it's frozen. With the large mouth containers, no problem. With the milk jugs, cut off the top few inches to get the container you need. Remember when it comes time to fill your container with water it's best to do this with a seperate pitcher while the container is sitting in the freezer; rather than trying to maneuver from the sink to the freezer with an unwieldy pan or jug of water (experience can talk about the wet mess if you want me to)!
Here's the key -- most people fill up the container and close the door, hoping to find a nice ice block when they check a while later, just like we do for smaller cubes of ice. Instead, they find the container overflowed or split open while freezing, making a big mess of ice beneath it. We need to remember water expands when it freezes. Even filling up the container more than half way all at once is a recipe for disaster.
So here's the two ways to get your block of ice without the mess. One is just a bit faster than the other.
- Fill the container with water about 1/2-1" at a time and let that layer freeze before adding to the next. It takes an hour or so in most freezers to get each layer solid enough to add more water without causing the expansion mess. Keep going until you are about 1/2" from the top with your last layer and then let the entire block sit in the freezer another day if possible to make it good and solid.
- The second method uses the say basic idea, but start by filling your container with already made ice cubes and use the same fill method above to finish it off. This will freeze each layer in about 30 min instead of the hour or so above, so you get your block frozen quicker.
Use the block (or blocks if you have room) to keep your cooler nice and cold for days at a time!