an ice-cold glass of lemonade, fireworks on the 4th of July, relaxing in the pool listening to your favorite summertime music, watermelon seed spitting contests and devouring a popsicle at lightning speed to keep it from melting all over your hands!
Doesn’t get much better than that, especially if you are a kid (or a kid at heart)!
Of course, we want our kids to experience this “bliss,” and as parents (and the ones with the buying power) we really need to recognize…many popsicles we find at the store are really nothing more than processed sugar on a stick! Remember Michael Pollan’s food rule “avoid foods that have some form of sugar listed among the top three ingredients?"
Check out this example of the first few ingredients from a store-bought box of popsicles: water, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar…umm, how many different ways can you say “sugar?” Plus, all of those mysterious health-deteriorating artificial food colorings!
If you haven’t really paid attention to this before, you are probably not alone. We don’t want to burst that “summertime bliss” bubble, so know that all hope is not lost…you can easily make your own popsicles that the kids (and adults) will love!
All you need are some REAL ingredients, popsicle sticks and some molds or small cups. And the best part?! You know exactly what’s in them!
Have you ever heard the history on popsicles?
The story is that in 1905, Frank Epperson was 11 years old when he left a fruit-flavored soda with a stir stick in it outside on the front porch where it froze…stick and all. He thought it tasted great, but it took 18 more years for him to receive a patent for the “frozen ice on a stick” called the Epsicle ice-pop, which his children later named the “popsicle.” In 1925, after struggles to turn his popsicles into a thriving business, he sold it to the Joe Lowe Company of New York. After years of legal battles over the rights to sell frozen treats on a stick, Unilever now owns many of these frozen brands.
Since young Frank’s simple discovery, a lot has changed in how popsicles are produced, especially those that are mass produced. Which is why we encourage making your own…the benefits are better taste, better health and some great memories to share with your kids, family and friends!
It is easy to make your own great-tasting popsicles -- this is an ideal way to get kids in the kitchen!
Take advantage of these tips for your homemade popsicle making:
- If using fresh fruit, use ripe fruit…it will have the best flavor.
- If you are making layered popsicles, you can freeze each layer for about 30 minutes, and then add the popsicle stick when freezing the final layer.
- No fancy molds required! Popsicle molds are inexpensive and you can find them at most grocery stores this time of year, but you can also use small cups or glasses along with popsicle sticks.
- If you use paper cups, they should just tear away from the frozen popsicle. If you use plastic or glass cups, you will likely need to run them under some warm water (not hot) for about 20 seconds to loosen the frozen popsicle.
- Popsicle sticks work great, but toothpicks are not the best idea unless you are using ice cube trays to make your popsicles. Toothpicks can break easily and are difficult to hold.
- Don’t overfill your molds or cups — no one wants a sticky mess in their freezer!
- Depending on the temperature of your freezer, most popsicles will take 3-5 hours to completely freeze.
Try a few of these amazing flavor combinations!
Dipped Chocolate Banana: (remember chocolate pudding pops?!) This version will definitely satisfy a chocolate craving -- the hardened chocolate is so much fun and adding chopped nuts give them a great crunch!
Berry Banana: keep it as simple as strawberry banana, or add blueberries, coconut flakes and nuts for a little more texture in your homemade popsicle!
Tropical Chile Lime: have you ever had a popsicle with a kick? This version has a fresh tropical flavor thanks to the mango and pineapple, and then leaves you with a surprise kick of cayenne -- delicious!
Patriotic popsicle! As the 4th of July quickly approaches, try these festive Red, White and Blueberry popsicles. We did a taste-test with the kids and these got great reviews! “Much better flavor than the store bought ones...plus, they look cool!”
The possibilities for homemade popsicles are endless!
Here are a few more things to consider:
- Greek yogurt mixed with milk (almond, soy or rice milk too) can replace heavy cream for an ice cream like consistency.
- Sweeteners such as pure maple syrup and honey work great and can be adjusted to your taste. Keep in mind, depending on what type of fruit you use, you may not need much sweetener at all!
- Less waste! Don’t throw out the bananas that are going soft…freeze them (peel before freezing), and blend with cocoa powder and vanilla extract and turn them into chocolate banana popsicles! Or better yet, clean out the refrigerator and see what flavor combinations inspire you (leftover yogurt, orange segments, kiwi and more)!
- When coming up with your own unique flavor combinations, it is best to use ingredients that grow in the same season such as watermelon and mint, peaches and blueberries, or tomato and basil (yes, savory popsicles are great too!). Some other excellent combinations include cucumber mint, orange rosemary and peach lavender!
- Don’t forget to write down your unique creations - if you find that special popsicle creation everyone loves, avoid the frustration of not being able to remember what you did!
You may be surprised how much the kids (and maybe some adults) enjoy and eat new things, especially if they are frozen and on a stick! Plus, this is a great way to get kids in the kitchen. You can freeze almost anything, so let them get creative...what's the worst that can happen?!
Please share your ideas!
We would love to tell other Eat REAL America members about your unique popsicle creations!