Just Harvested My Last Crop of June Ice Cubes

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bag of ice cube freshly picked

freshly picked bag of ice cubes Freshly-picked ice cubes: There’s nothing like the taste of homegrown.

The topic of weather is rarely tabled here on the island. In fact, it’s usually the opener and the final word. “Some weather, eh?” The question is posed to friends and strangers alike whether we’re sporting a sweater or galvanized in Gore-Tex, ordering a latte or waiting for the ferry. Toasty warm or bone-chilling damp, there are fine details to discuss to prolong the subject and the conversation. (After all, island time is measured in half hours not minutes.)

I’m not immune to such behavior, especially when it comes to my latest crop: ice cubes. I can’t remember a better growing season, extending well into mid-June this year. The cold temperatures and relentless rains have been perfect conditions for growing fully-shaped brittle ice cubes–the kind that crack with precision into shiny shards with the whack of soup spoon–the kind that linger in your glass awaiting the next re-fill–the kind that put the capital “D” in Daiquiri.

I’m strictly an heirloom ice cube grower, sticking with the tried-and-true varieties that spring from the legendary wells of  Water District 19. (Much like wine appellation, ice cubes from other island locales like Burton or Dockton can’t be sold as sourced from Water District 19.) Oh yeah, I can taste the difference.

While others complain about heating bills, mood swings usually reserved for Northwest winters and corn that’s as high an a centipede’s eye, I’m grateful that I have one last mess of cubes for the weekend. Luckily, they freeze well,  and I can extend their use for a couple weeks. Sweet tea here, a smoothie there, it’s hard for me to let go of the season and move on to strawberries and raspberries.  I’ll be sure to reserve a bagful or two for my friends M & J who appreciate the nuisances of homegrown cubes to cool fine Kentucky bourbon and calm down their juleps. (Did I mention they trade Dungeness crab?)

So the next time you begin to complain about the weather, think again and thank Mother Nature and the farmer who brought you your high ball’s sparkling star. Ice cubes like these don’t just grow on trees or in places where the sun is a regular visitor during the summer months. We’re indeed blessed in the Pacific Northwest. (Now where’s my blender?)

bag of freshed pick ice cubesLate harvest ice cubes and doing a little showing off a week before summer solstice.

What I was blogging about:

17 COMMENTS

  1. I’ll bring some ice cube starts next time I visit–Bull Run is our source–might have a different flavor and growth habit.

  2. I just took a class on ‘Food Dehydrating and Preserving’ from OSU Extension. I’m newly aware of the need to steam-blanch before freezing — I hope you are remembering to do this!

  3. Kathy: good tip. Something odd happened though, I blanched the first batch of ice cubes and they completely disappeared. Maybe I’ll just take my chances with vacuum sealing. 😉

  4. our season is too short here with the heat and all. we have to bring ’em in from from south dakota. we only use them for special occasions and of course we aren’t heavy drinkers like you islanders.

  5. brion: I would have to say Texans are a tougher lot. If Northwesterners didn’t have access to NPR, fresh-ground, fair-trade coffee and spring-fed water for ice cubes, well, we’d shrivel, or at least become uncharacteristically irritable. As for islanders drinking, we do it in moderation, when not participating in drum circles, aura re-alignments and quilting bees. Stay cool and spring for some ice so your kids can have a slushie or snow cone now and then.

    Renae: I grow them behind a fence, since it’s a deer favorite, like asparagus tips and apple tree shoots.

  6. Rowena: of course, I’d be willing to trade seeds for maybe a start from one of your pasta trees, either the radiatori, manicotti or fusilli.

  7. Heirloom varities – BAH! You need Roundup-ready genetically modified varities, You get a way bigger yield and since they glow in the dark, you can harvest around the clock!

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