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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
up vote 7 down vote accepted

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

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

Don't pay too attention to the previous answers.... I've got this one!

I've had a severe crushed ice addiction for about 5 years and I've figured out a few ways to help keep crushed ice fluffy and dry. And believe me when i say I've tried damn near everything.

First and foremost, you MUST blend/crush the ice in a FROZEN BLENDER! (keep in freezer for at least 2 hours prior to crushing the ice (I keep my blender in there 24/7 because crush at whole lot, and often). 2nd, when blending don't waste anymore than 45-60 seconds getting ice into blender, crushing it then back into the freezer.

Most importantly, make sure the container you store any crushed ice in is FROZEN solid... I have found that a stainless steel bowl is very good at helping the fluffy and dry cause....

And....lthough you don't have to the following, it does make a huge difference if you don't have a sub zero freezer... and that's putting a couple of blocks of DRY ICE in the freezer near/under your crushed ice. (Do a Google search and find a local dry ice supplier and get a click or two the day of your party).

I keep a metal potato masher in the freezer. .I use it to mash up the ice if it isn't totally fluffy and dry.

*Bonus Tip for carrying fluffy ice in a personal/small cooler... The night before put whatever size cup(s) you're going to be transporting inside the cooler and fill it with regular ice, then put the whole cooler in the freezer....the next morning when you remove frozen cups you'll have a perfectly 'fitted' spot for the cup you're gonna carry/transport. Fill your cup(s) with your crushed ice and immediately put it/them back into the freezer until you're ready to walk out the door. When you're ready, get the cooler out, and ADD SALT! And i don't mean a pinch... I'm talking like a 1/4-1/2 cup per 5 pounds of ice. Salt decreases the temperature of ice significantly and I guarantee, if you use an aluminum cup/mug for your crushed ice and put it immediately into the empty space in the cooler (where those empty cups were) and cover it/close the lid, you'll have 8 straight hours before that fluffy ice begins to melt.

I know.....I know, it's actually pretty damn sad that I know this shit.

BTW, a sub zero freezer is your best bet.

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