Add berries and sliced fruit to the ice for an extra-festive touch.
Last week we sampled a pair of festive holiday punches - and our readers shared some of their own great recipes as well. This week we're going to take a look at one last important detail: Ice. When it comes to keeping a large bowl of punch fresh and cool for an evening, not just any ice will do. Regular ice cube tray ice melts too quickly, letting things warm up and get watered down much too soon. If you want ice to last as long as possible, the trick is to go big.
Earlier this week, I did a few experiments with some really big ice. This is what I learned:
Choosing a Container
After poking around my cupboards at home, I chose three different containers to use as ice molds: a 16-ounce supermarket deli container, a square food storage container, and a tall plastic jug. (Bundt pans and jelly molds, if you have them, would make great shapes too.) I tried each out in the bowl I'd be serving the punch in. The key, I discovered, was to go as big as possible, but to still leave enough room in the bowl to maneuver the ladle.
I added fresh pineapple slices and a handful of cranberries to the water in the square container, for a little extra decorative flair.
More water means a longer freezing time, so for peace of mind, it's best to start things the night before.
Ready to Serve
Run the sealed container under hot water briefly to release the ice block, and you're ready to go!
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC’s Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.
Related: Good Question: Know a Great Holiday Punch?
(Images: Nora Maynard)