Clear ice is the holy grail of the drink blogger and maybe the beverage geek as well. One answer is to buy ice, but where's the challenge in that? The true ice aficionado wants to make that ice at home from scratch, right?
I've heard all kinds of theories on making clear ice. Boiling that water first is supposed to help, but it's not the complete answer.
When I got my frigid paws on the Polar Ice Tray ($18.99), I was intrigued. Here's a simple non-mechanical gadget that purports to make clear ice. No voodoo, no batteries, no stirring required. Just a few parts you assemble and put in your freezer.
The one I tried was the triangle-shaped tray. The shaping section can be left out to make one giant clear cube instead of four small triangular "cubes," if that's your preference. The shaping section fits into a square white plastic piece with holes in the bottom, and that snugs into another square white plastic piece. That whole assembly fits into the bright insulating foam piece.
The idea is that the bright-colored insulating piece forces the ice to freeze from the top down, which forces impurities in the water downward through holes in the bottom of one section and into another section. When you take it all apart, the ice in the top compartment is supposed to be clear while the ice in that second section should be cloudy.
Does it work?
Heck yeah. Or, mostly. The first time I tried it, there was a little bit of white ice at the bottom of my pretty clear triangular cubes. Then I thought well, hmmm, if it's all about freezing slowly from the top down, how about starting with warmer water? That did the trick. My triangles of ice were clear and there was cloudy ice in the bottom tray where it belonged.
On the plus side, this is a very cool geeky toy. On the downside, it would take you a long time to make enough ice for a party. But for a few perfect cubes for a photo or a few drinks, this crazy thing does the trick.
About the author: Resident yeast whisperer and bread baking columnist Donna Currie also has a serious gadget habit. When her father-in-law heard about this column, he upgraded the nickname for her kitchen from "gadget world" to "gadget heaven." You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.
Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.