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Monday, January 27, 2014

Taking advantage of Half & Half or heavy cream on markdown

When I find half & half or heavy cream on  markdown, I buy a couple of quarts and freeze in ice cube trays. After the cream cubes are frozen, I pop them out into a large ziploc bag, and keep in the freezer. To use, I thaw, as needed, to add to sauces or my coffee.

These 4 cream cubes are for a pumpkin, sage and sausage pasta dish that I'm making tonight. I'll thaw them on the counter for an hour, before stirring into the pumpkin sauce.

In November, I found half and half creamer on markdown for 50 cents per quart. Then in December, I found the same brand on markdown for 75 cents per quart. Both prices I felt were good enough to buy some. A touch of cream can smooth out soups and sauces, which in turn leaves us very satisfied with meals at home.

A hint for popping the frozen cream cubes out of the tray: they're difficult to just pop out of the plastic tray, fresh out of the freezer. If I let the ice tray sit on the counter for about 3-4 minutes before popping out, they come out easily.

When we bought our current fridge/freezer with auto ice maker, I thought I would give the ice cube trays away. But I had a second thought to keep them. You never know when you'll need to freeze something in small quantities, like cream. What do you use your ice cube trays for?

(Note -- sometimes, but not always, milk and cream products separate when freezing and thawing. We've had good luck re-combining with a brisk stir.)


  1. We don't have an ice cube maker, so we make ... ice cubes! Sometimes I freeze tomato paste in them because most recipes seem to call for 1 or 2 tablespoons of it, not the whole can.

    1. Hi Kris,
      how very novel of you to use your ice cube trays to make ice cubes! Tomato paste would definitely be a good thing for ice cube trays. That small amount would add a lot of flavor to a homemade soup or casserole.

  2. I use a Silpat mini-muffin tray from when my kids were small to freeze items. Everything pops out very easily.

    1. Hi Martine,
      What a handy thing for freezing small amounts! I've seen silicon muffin and baking pans. They look like they would be a breeze for baking, but as you pointed out, for freezing in, too!

  3. Those are both great prices for half and half creamer, Lili. I have found those items marked down before at Food Lion. If you can get there early in the morning you can take advantage of a lot of mark downs, including meat.

    My aunt made punch for a reception for us one time and she took some of the punch and froze it in ice cube trays to keep the punch cold. I thought it was a neat idea at the time.

    1. Hi Belinda,
      I probably wouldn't buy half & half, if it weren't for the markdowns. Definitely, getting there early in the day for best selection on markdowns is a must. My other secret for finding markdowns is to shop in a slightly more upscale store/area. Many of the folks shopping there completely turn their noses up at markdowns. All the more for me, I say!

      The one area I don't find a lot of great markdowns is fresh meat. I do find bacon, sausage and hot dogs on markdown though. The meat markdowns tend to be the pricier cuts of meat in our stores, so still expensive for me. If I was preparing a special dinner, and wanted a really good steak, that's where I'd look, though.

      Such a clever thing your aunt did. That kept the punch full-flavored, and not watered down as ice melted! My mom used to make ice rings out of lemonade, to add to punch. Same idea, preserve the flavor of the punch.

  4. I'm with Kris in that we use our ice cube trays for ice. However, I will occasionally freeze something like blended fruit in them for ice cubes later. I also have frozen spices in them. I do remember freezing whole milk when I was growing up and it did separate and never quite got its texture back good enough for drinking. However, freezing skim milk seems to work fine and probably milk or cream that you're going to cook with would work okay too. I guess that's what you've found.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Blended fruit. Now that's a great idea for ice cubes. I'm thinking pureed peaches to use in iced tea. That would be really yummy.

      Yeah, the cream that I use in cooking seems to do fine. It blends right in with whatever soup, sauce or at the holidays, eggnog. In my coffee, I just have to stir it up well, then the cream incorporates better. It's a funny thing with gallons of milk. Sometimes milk separates enough to be noticeable, other times not at all. When my kids were younger (and pickier), I would run the thawed milk through the blender, if it had separated.

  5. What a great idea. I've often thrown cream away because we never got through a tub. Now I freeze the leftovers in their container but ice cubes would be much more user friendly. I use ice cube trays for freezing chopped fresh herbs.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      A lot of people seem to use their ice cube trays for fresh herbs. That sounds like it would be a great way to portion out the right amount for cooking.


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