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You've got a cocktail party and need a supply of crushed ice through the night without having to continually bring out the blender.

Leave it out and it melts quickly.

Put it in the freezer and it joins back together.

Is there some cheap way of keeping it crushed like those super-expensive, super-unreliable Iced-Coke/Slurpee machines do?

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I like how this question reads like a choose your own adventure novel. "Leave it out..." (Turn to page 86), "Put it in the freezer..." (Turn to page 107) –  mfg Jun 14 '12 at 14:46
    
:) Gamification? –  jontyc Jun 15 '12 at 9:28
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4 Answers

As far as I know: No, there isn't. Because is some cases that is the purpose of crushed ice: Melting faster than an ice cube.

I don't know how many guest you have, but I would just keep ice cubes in the freezer. When making a drink, just take some out, hold it in your hand and hit it hard with the back of your bar spoon. Voila, crushed ice.

Please note that this only works with heavy bar spoons, so not every spoon available is made for this purpose.

On another note: You can also buy crushed ice. It comes in large bags. Of course the pieces also join a bit together, but here is a trick. Just throw the closed bag on the floor so the pieces separate. Then take a champagne cooler or something and put your ice in there. Put it in the freezer. It will join a bit of course, but somehow you can still take some out with an ice shovel. This how some bartenders I know do it all summer long during outdoor-events.

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Use an ice cream scoop. Should be heavy enough. –  Chris Cudmore Jun 14 '12 at 20:42
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Maintaining a source of regular agitation will disrupt the crushed ice from joining while preventing refreezing, however constant agitation will also cause it to melt faster. I would recommend filling a small cooler/ice box/ice chest, optionally with a bed of ice packs (the solid plastic kind, covered with a clean, no-lint towel), and a metal serving spoon to agitate them when serving. This should minimize both melting (by insulating) and refreezing (by the raised bed draining melted water) as much as one could reasonably expect.

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The reason it joins back together is because it has begun to melt, then re-freezes. To avoid this, you need to keep the ice cold and dry, so there's nothing else to re-freeze.

This can be accomplished by crushing your ice in the freezer. Probably not practical for most people, though, unless you have a walk-in freezer, or an in-freezer ice crusher.

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Beyond the agitation, dryness, and cold unit temps mentioned above, I would recommend sourcing ice that made from water that has as little air as possible and negligible mineral content, and is frozen under pressure the way that e.g. Arctic Glacier brand ice is as compared to most brands. These two factors do seem to make a difference, from my experience. You may also consider the factor of ambient temperature wherever the ice is being stored and served from as a factor, and even go so far as to use a dehumidifier for a short period of time in that same area.

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Interesting. Zero chance of me finding that locally (even distilled water is rare). Not sure I'd be be comfortable explaining to guests why I have a dehumidifier going, unless it was a SA party :) –  jontyc Jun 15 '12 at 9:32
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