Ice is ice, you might be thinking. What does it matter what shape or color it’s in? You’d be surprised to know that many food industry establishments, businesses, and private homes consider the shape and clarity of the ice they want when purchasing an ice maker. It’s not simply about aesthetics; it comes down to the fact that different ice cubes melt differently in your glass.
Cloudy vs. Clear
Most ice makers on the market produce cloudy, or opaque, ice. This kind of ice isn’t white and cloudy because it’s dirty or impure; rather, the water is frozen at a much greater speed, leaving small air bubbles trapped inside the cubes. Many restaurants appreciate cloudy ice because it’s soft and porous, absorbing the taste of the drink it sits in. It also has the benefit of cooling drinks immediately. Many people enjoy soft ice because it’s light and crunchy, making it appealing to those who chew ice as a habit; fortunately, they won’t damage their teeth as badly as they would with hard, clear ice.
Some ice makers are designed specifically to create clear ice by removing all the air and impurities from the ice during the freezing process. More formal restaurants choose hard ice, which is clear, odorless, and tasteless. Drinks do not penetrate hard ice; on the contrary, hard ice takes longer to melt, does not dilute drinks, and only provides cooling from the outer surface. Clear ice makers are generally the most expensive type on the market.
Portable, undercounter, and commercial ice makers all produce ice cubes of different shapes.
- Crescent shaped ice is the most common form of ice you’ll see produced by your refrigerator and undercounter ice makers. Flat on one edge and rounded on the other, it’s typically cloudy in appearance.
- Bullet shaped ice looks the way its name suggests: like a cylindrical bullet with a rounded hole in the flat end. Also opaque in color, bullet ice is commonly made by portable ice makers.
- Flake ice is usually completely white and is one of the cheapest forms of ice to make in great quantities. It cools drinks quickly and is convenient for packing and storing food, making it a favorite choice of many restaurant establishments.
- Nugget, or pellet, ice is clear, crisp, and popular as a chewable ice. Because it melts slowly and doesn’t dilute drinks, many people see it as a refreshing option for their soft drinks. Several Scotsman ice maker models produce nugget ice.
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