Baby, it’s hot outside. Whether things are just starting to heat up a little in your ‘hood (like our East and West Coast foodies) or the summer sun is steady greeting you with 100˚F and buckets of sweat (what up, Third Coast!), I think we can all agree that it’s time to bust out the swimsuits, sunglasses, and icy treats.
This summer, my weapon of choice for battling the searing Lone Star sun is the homemade popsicle. Simple, versatile, and refreshingly ice cold, homemade popsicles are a great way to mix up your nutrient intake, take your smoothies to-go, and most importantly, keep cool.
Making popsicles is so fun and easy! You can add any manner of fruits, veggies, and flavors, have complete control over how much (or little) sugar you throw in, and don’t have to have any fancy equipment (although we’ll look at the perks of having a set of reusable molds in more depth later this week). You’ll save a bundle on pricey “gourmet” fruit bars and dodge the artificial nasties in bargain freezer pops all at the same time. What’s not to love?
The process is easy breezy:
Create your flavor.
Keep it super simple with a single fruit or dream up tasty combos. Think outside the classic repertoire—instead of strawberry banana, why not strawberry green tea with lime? How about peach and honey lemonade? A few of my herbalist gals here in Austin have been concocting flavors like prickly pear with lime blossom and lemon balm and pineapple Matcha mint. Mmmm.
Blend it up.
Once you’ve chosen your ingredients, get them into liquid form. Throw everything in the blender and add a splash of juice, tea, or water if you need to thin it out a little. Want to sweeten the deal? Popsicles are a great medium for homemade syrups—they’re easier to integrate than granulated sugar. If you’re using honey, it’s best to dissolve it in a hot tea or syrup rather than adding it straight to cold ingredients, which will cause it to solidify and separate.
Pour and freeze.
After everything’s blended up, pour into popsicle molds, small paper cups, or an ice cube tray. If using either of the latter options, it’s best to allow them to freeze for an hour or two before inserting popsicle sticks or trimmed skewers, as they’ll stay upright more easily that way. I like to reserve some chopped fresh fruit or herbs, lemon or lime zest, or other colorful bits that you can drop into the molds at random intervals to create prettier pops.
Don’t be tempted to dig into your popsicles before they’re fully frozen! If you do, your sticks are prone to pull right out and you might end up with more of a slush-in-a-cup type of thing. Give your pops a solid 4 to 6 hours to make sure they’re fully set.
Run your popsicle molds under hot water for a few seconds all the way around to loosen your pops, or twist your ice cube tray to release them. If you’re using paper cups, you can even tear them away. Make sure you send the little ones outside and/or equip them with plenty of napkins—homemade popsicles are just as sticky as the rest!