Strangely making perfectly clear floral ice cubes is actually not as easy as it sounds but hopefully these tips will help a wee bit. And if any of you know any more then please do share... Firstly only ever use organic edible flowers either grown in your own garden or sourced from a reputable organic source such as Maddocks Farm Organics for making floral ice cubes. The last thing you need is for flowers that have been sprayed with chemicals to be dissolving and floating in your drink. Also please ensure that the variety of flowers that you choose are actually edible. You can buy them HERE.
Slightly larger flowers, heavier flowers, flowers in groups and edible foliage work better than tiny flower which visually get lost. If you was to use delicate small flowers such as borage, or petal confetti, then how about grouping them together or adding some fresh mint leaves, lemon verbena sweet cicely or other edible herbs. They help to show off the flowers and also add flavour. It is difficult to make perfectly clear ice cubes because of impurities in our water. Firstly use distilled water as it has less impurities than tap water. Boil first to reduce these further (purists suggest doing this twice - there's a joke in there somewhere!) and allow it to cool and then pop in a covered jug in the fridge until completely chilled. I'd recommend use silicone trays rather than metal or rigid plastic as they are easier to remove the cubes from without twisting them too much and causing cracks in the cubes. Fill your ice cube containers up to 2/5th full with the water and play the flowers in the trays face down. This will mean that your flowers are set into the middle of the cubes. You might want to think about adding little sprigs of herbs such as mint, lemon verbena, sweet cicely etc as these will set off the flowers beautifully and also add flavour. Pop the ice cube container in the freezer - level. My friend Jolly suggests placing it on a piece of cardboard as he says this stops the cubes clouding at the bottom where they are in contact with the very cold. See below.... He might be right. If your freezer is sadly like mine, with an eclectic mix of bags of herbs, stock and seasonal foraging such as wild garlic, too many fish caught by Long Suffer Stu plus strange unidentified things that have been there a bit too long (don't judge!) then it might be worthwhile popping in the ice cube tray in plastic bag because you don't want your ice to pick up any unwanted flavours. Leave overnight or until thoroughly set.Keep the remaining distilled water in a covered jug in the fridge as cold as possible. Once the bottom half of your cubes have set then remove from the freezer and leave for one minute and then top up very carefully with the remaining chilled/distilled water. If the water is not chilled enough, or the bottom half of the cubes are not set enough then either the top of the first layer melts and the flowers float to the surface or you hear a crackling sound and the difference in temperature causes the bottom layer to crack. Grrrr! Carefully put the ice cube trays back into the freezer, level and freeze until complete set. Once the ice cubes have set they can be gently removed from the ice cube tray and stored in the freezer in a plastic bag for up to 8 weeks if the freezer is below -18.
A quick trip around the internet will reveal that there are some wonderful and eye openly fabulous variations on size and style of ice cube molds. Think outside of the box and you'll also find lolly molds, butter molds and chocolate molds that will all work equally well and come in a vast range of shapes and sizes. The new almost tennis ball shaped and sized molds are brilliant in that you can create a sphere of flowers, all facing outwards and because the cubes are so large they take a very long time to dissolve and dilute your drinks. What about making floral ice cube shot glasses? These were made for a Russian wedding and served with chilled shots of vodka.... beautiful.
Traditionally ice cubes are made out of water but for special occasions it is definitely fun to think outside of the box. The chemists amongst you will have a much better knowledge about freezing point of sugars and alcohol that this slightly dense gardener but I do know a little bit about drinking (again don't judge!) and have had successes with freezing all sorts of liquids into ice cubes. You will need to dilute your additions enough that they freeze solid - distilling is illegal. Some ideas to have a play with: - Adding lime or lemon juice to your ice cubes. This is particularly good with ice water for the table; - For gin based cocktails then add tonic frozen as ice cubes with flowers and slices of lemon; - Serving fruit juice with ice cubes made out of prosecco makes a hot day a lot more fun - or the other way around; - Rum or whisky based cocktails are great served with ice cubes made from spicy ginger beer with edible flowers and I have seen them with rounds of fresh chilli; - Sparkling elderflower cordial, rose cordial, or any floral cordials are lovely added with edible flowers to cubes and when popped into white wine, spritzers or prosecco they create a drink that changes flavour as the cubes dissolves. Finally please spare a thought for the lovely drivers at your party. They usually play second fiddle to the drinkers but a lovely non alcoholic mocktail with ice cubes made of ginger beer, cordial, fruit juice etc etc makes for a far more pleasurable experience for them as well. Bon Appetit