petals in ice

Years ago, I saw a picture in a magazine of a beautiful bowl made from flowers and leaves encased in ice. But beautiful as it was, it seemed fairly unusable. Surely it would melt too quickly leaving a soggy mess. Then I found pictures of ethereal ice glasses with delicate flowers suspended in a ghostly sheath, but I thought if the ice was too thin they’d leak and supposing they were so cold that your lips stuck to the ice. Ouch. Instead, I made ice cubes with flowers in them and with raspberries or thin strips of lemon peel but still the idea of ice bowls and glasses hovered.


Of course in the end, as spring flowers start to appear along with thoughts of languorous summer days ahead, I had to try making ice glasses. I put a little water into the bottom of a glass and froze it, to make the base. Then I put a slightly smaller glass inside, poked flowers down the sides, filled the gap with water and froze again before releasing the glasses with hot water to leave an ice shaped glass. But they’re very slippery and very cold and hopelessly impractical.

iced plastic cups

Using plastic glasses might work for a small party if the outer plastic glass was left in place to make it more comfortable to hold. They could be made well in advance, would look pretty and drinks would be ready iced.

ice blocks

Far more practical though is a decorated ice block. To quote Dorcas Lane, my one weakness is … a gin and tonic before Sunday dinner. I’m fussy though.  I have preferences for certain gins and don’t like flat or diet tonic water. Most importantly, a good gin and tonic needs plenty of ice. My father in law didn’t add ice because he thought it diluted the drink and when I once asked my mother in law if she had some ice, she thought someone had sprained something and I was looking for an ice pack. But use plenty of ice and drink fast enough and dilution isn’t a problem.  A silicone fairy cake mould is ideal for making a good sized ice block (or hot chocolate block) and a much better use for these wretched things than baking when they twist and bulge and produce odd shaped cakes. A flower or slice of lemon dropped into the water makes them look decorative and as they’re large, the blocks take ages to melt. Altogether more practical than an ice glass, though not quite so beautiful or fragile looking.

12 thoughts on “ice

  1. I saw that idea in a magazine likewise and experimented a bit before I got it to work. What I found worked best was to use a large plastic mixing bowl and a freezer-proof soufflé dish about an inch smaller in diameter than the bowl. Pour some water into the plastic bowl and float the soufflé dish on top. Add flowers, herbs etc fiddling about to get some underneath and some round the sides. (This can take a bit of time and patience!) Add weights to the floating soufflé dish to sink it a bit so that you get proper walls. I use scale weights. Use something to secure the soufflé dish an even distance from the walls of the bowl. D made me a pair of plastic struts with notches for this but you might be able to use tape or something. Now freeze the whole lot for a good couple of days until really hard. When frozen the best thing is to loosen the inner bowl with warm water and extract it and likewise with the outer bowl and then refreeze the ice bowl until really solid again and required for serving purposes. You can sit ice cream scoops directly in the bowl or you can use the ice bowl as an outer container for a round ice cream tub. Put the ice bowl on a plate when serving as obviously it does begin to melt but I’ve used this successfully on really hot evenings and it’s held up. The lovely thing is that as it melts the cloudy appearance of the ice when it first comes out of the freezer gives way to a lovely glassy look and you can see all the decorative bits and bobs nicely! Sorry for such a long reply but hope it may be useful. E x

    1. Thanks Elizabeth – very useful. I’ll have to try it out this summer; in my mind I can see rose petals and something green and frondy but not sure if the reality will be quite the same. Sounds fun anyway and good to know that someone has actually done it other than a stylist for a photoshoot.

  2. That does look like fun for a special occasion – provided we get a summer this year!

    I’m sighing in relief that someone has spoken out about the impractical silicone bun ‘tins’. I’ve found them hopeless and only use them now for freezing small portions of sauces. And even then I’ve had one bad spill in the freezer.

    1. The silicone ‘tins’ come in such seductive colours but I just don’t get on with them. If I use them for baking then it is only as a “liner” for a metal tin.

  3. I’ve seen this idea too, with flowers and herbs and loved the look of it. Being hopeless at tricky practical things, I assumed I’d make a mess of it though. But you’re inspiring me, even if I just do primrose ice cubes. I love borage ice cubes in gin & tonic and elderflower cordial but need to get experimenting with more Spring flowers.

  4. Have you tried Hendricks? With a slice of cucumber instead of lemon? Sounds gross I know, but Mike swears by it. He is a Sunday G&T person too.

  5. I have some silicone cup cake moulds that I never use so will pick some flower heads and petals and try it out, if in a drink can you eat the flowers? Also made a simnel cake this year glutten free using the Mary Berry recipe , worked very well only put small amount of almond essence in almond paste, tasted really good.

  6. All this recommending of gins … I love the (good) stuff, but neat (or in a Martini) … someone has yet to produce a tonic I can abide. Try one of your floral ice cubes in Beefeater’s Summer Edition Gin (without the tonic) 🙂

    1. Goodness Annie, a hardened gin drinker! Some tonics are vile aren’t they? G&T needs a much heavier hand with the G than than the T. We did some tastings of different gins and the subtleties were quite overpowered when tonic was added.

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