When you think popsicles, what do you think? Crayon-colored Flav R Ice in plastic sleeves? Skinny popsicles on sticks or giant ones that melt before you can eat them? Growing up I loved the Kool-Aid in plastic or on sticks, and I don’t remember much else being available. When I was a teenager there were “healthy” Dole Fruit and Juice pops, made with real fruit and tons of sugar. Fun fact: if you eat a strawberry one while riding your bike you will look like you were in a wreck by the end of the ride.
Now there’s a whole aisle of options in some stores. Glorified Kool-Aid, fruit, yogurt, and even veggie pops. And there’s plenty of small businesses dedicated to popsicles with all sorts of flavors. The great thing about this is you have inspiration for a variety of popsicle options no matter what’s at market.
First up is a super easy idea from leftovers from a previous blog recipe: carrot popsicles. Certainly you can juice carrots and make a popsicle from the juice, and that’s great. However, if you make our family’s favorite carrot cake you will have a cup of sweetened carrot juice left over. The original recipe said to discard it, but I always hated doing that. I finally decided to turn it into popsicles.
If you want to make a sweet popsicle, make your liquid a little sweeter than you normally prefer. Most of the time I find popsicles taste less sweet than the liquid they were made from. Perhaps my sweet taste buds get frozen? For sweetener, use syrup; it blends better. You can make simple syrup or honey syrup: equals parts sweetener and water, heated until dissolved. I prefer my honey raw so I try not to heat honey syrup, or at least I warm it as little as possible. Maple syrup will darken your popsicle, but the flavor would be worth it, especially in carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, or apple pops.
The carrot/sugar mixture from the cake is even sweeter than I want in a popsicle, though, so I added some lemon juice to counterbalance it. Lime or orange would work well, too.
That’s another good idea: balance the fruit and vegetables you put in your popsicle with other juices - or herbs. Think about lime with blackberry, raspberry and mint, apple and cherry, or lemon with blueberry. Or with vegetables: orange and carrot, cucumber and mint, or spinach with lime. Whatever appeals to you, really.
Mixing fruit or fruit syrup with yogurt results in a creamy and pretty pop. Last week’s coulis swirled in yogurt could easily be frozen rather than eaten right away. Leave it swirled, or mix it completely for a pastel pop. If you have the time and patience you can do a rainbow pop with different colors/flavors. This works in a juice pop as well. We’re past (or mostly past) berry season, but you can use jams to swirl into your yogurt, milk, or non-dairy alternatives such as coconut cream.
We still have plenty of fruits and vegetables coming into season that work well in popsicles. Apples, whether blended, juiced, or sauced, make a great base for a popsicle, or even the star. Their lone disadvantage is that they can be a bleh tan color. These green apple popsicles, however, look lovely in their natural state. You can add natural coloring, too, in the form of spinach or beet juices. I wanted a really green pop so I went a little overboard.
I followed the green apple popsicle recipe, but I included a couple big handfuls of spinach. They blend down to nearly nothing, and the taste is subtle. I’ll still go easier next time for better color.
Those wishing for pumpkin spice on hot September days can get theirs in a pumpkin pie pop.
Look around this week and see what will make a refreshing popsicle for the upcoming dog days!