The BEST frozen popsicles – Homemade – Simple – Delicious – Low Calorie
For some places around the world (like where I’m currently sitting in Antigua, Caribbean), “summer” is a constant. Other places, (like my hatching land of Ontario, Canada), only sees the heat for a few short months (read: hours).
But what do you do when you want a delicious treat that isn’t too expensive, doesn’t load you (or your kids) up with sugar, but really does taste amazing?
**And yes, you can just simply add vodka or tequila or rum to this and make an excellent 18+ drink**
I’m gonna show you two types, so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy them, depending on what their personal preference is.
I used to use these for teething gums of one of the little boys I was guardian of for over a year, and they were so good, I ended up making them all year around, even just for myself, as a chill happy mouth moment in my day. Sadly, I have not made any lately, so you’re gonna get stock-photo pics of what they would look like, as there is no current space in the freezer here to create any. But believe me, I’ve made well over 9000 of these tasty bites. Some I’ve made as ice cubes, to be tossed into an iced tea, some I’ve made into actual popsicle stick-containers, so they are longer and larger than just cubed ones. Some I’ve even made into a slushie kind of container full, to have that epic sweet sno-cone flavour in the middle of January when there are no county fairs on to help with that desire!
Whichever way you choose to do it, you will have to have one set (at least) of the following:
Ice cube tray(s) – can be with or without popsicle sticks
Freezer-safe container (ie a durable low [1-2” deep max, so it freezes evenly] plastic or glass container
Popsicle container that comes with plastic (< usually) sticks
Now, the serious part:
If you have children under the age of 5 (just to be on the safe side, as it should be at least 3 years of age, but some develop slower) – DO NOT USE HONEY. Honey can contain spores of a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum, which can germinate in a baby’s immature digestive system and cause infant botulism, a rare but potentially fatal illness.
Now, for the fun part:
You get to pick the fruit, yogurt, and sweetners you like. I will say, if you’re giving these to kids, sticking with their preference will definitely help, and be sure to not give them things that they won’t be able to enjoy because of allergies, etc.
One special added bonus: BLUEBERRIES are one of the BEST things to freeze for these, and give crazy amounts of sweetness to a popsicle/slushie/cube.
If I’m making it for myself, I tend not to get all worried about the seeds of strawberries/raspberries, etc, but if I am making it for anyone else, I will take that extra step and mash everything through a mesh colander or a cheesecloth, to only have the flavours but no crunchy bits in it.
It’s totally up to you though.
Things you WON’T want to refreeze: Heavy water content.
Melons in general don’t freeze well, but especially watermelon, cucumber (yes, there are people who love that cuke crispy flavour in their iced teas, but do not freeze it!!!), celery, and citrus (whole or in sections), pineapple (but you can use the juice) and it’s heartbreaking, but even rhubarb is foul when it’s been frozen (unless as a pie mix with strawberries, but they have already been cooked, and that’s a whole other story.)
You can however, freeze citrus zest, so feel free to put some orange or lime or tangerine or lemon zest for an added texture to your popsicles!
But wait, Pixie! You said blueberries were okay, and they have a ton of water content!!! starts to make a poster decrying Sera’s duplicitous words – Before you all demand my public execution, know that celery isn’t going to freeze well because freezing changes the physical texture of the food. Blueberries have a shield; that tiny thin skin around them protects the inner blueberry and crystalises the meat inside, essentially turning it into an epic little pocket of blueberry flavoured sugar ice. Celery is stringy and differently shaped (as an example), and because of this, the part inside each stalk is already watery to begin with (hence when you bite into it, it tastes like a SNAP & RUSH of crunchy and cool liquid together.
Suffice to say, I’m saving you science experimentation time, so don’t doubt the Pixie, and put away your protest signs. If you want to freeze some celery popsicles, do not come crying to me when they taste like your insoles.
Things you can easily freeze:
Grapes (if you plan on eating it all frozen, like as a popsicle) – if you want to thaw this out and have it as a lazy slushie, you might want to leave them out, as they will get a bit manky tasting.
ALL THE BERRIES. ((Note: Saskatoons, Gooseberries, and Blackberries are NOT fun friends together or really alone, so make sure if you’re gonna do them, add strawberries, blueberries, etc with them to bring out the sweetness, and dial down the tart))
Mango, kiwi, papaya, sugar apple, custard apple, soursop, coconut, banana, apricot, and other tropical varieties of fruit are all good, just make sure you do a test run before you make a full batch, depending on your location and the ripeness of the fruit.
If you want to use yogurt, it will separate, but if you’re wanting to use it, just make sure you know going in, that it’s going to have a hint of a grainy-ish kind of texture, and you’re fine.
Sweetners – totally your call. If you want corn syrup, okay, that’s your choice. Maple syrup? Great! Stevia or other man made sweetners might be what you can handle, so go for that. I personally use a hint of honey, and more berries-to-yogurt ratio so I have a fun sweetness that is real, rather than anything that is too fake.
Okay, so I’ve rambled a ton and barely said what to do right?
If you’re making a slush, you’ll want a good pint of each of those berries, and I’m guessing 2tsp ish of honey, and about 4-5 sprigs of mint (you put about 2 sprigs worth in the cooking and leave the other more than half for pretty bright green freshness throughout the slush).
If you’re making them into cubes, you’ll want enough to match the cubes and a bit more, so you’re slightly overfilling them.
If you’re making the popsicles, you’ll want to under fill them just enough so that they can expand when they freeze and the stick will fit as well and not get pushed out.
I’m gonna pick the three of my favourite combos, and give you how I do them up.
Berryliciousness: (and remember, you can strain these or leave them “as is” – your choice)
Raspberries, Strawberries, and Blueberries
In a medium sized pot, I dump the freshly washed and hulled berries in, and give them a light coating on top of honey. That’s it for this part, now turn the stove on, on low-med heat and make sure they don’t burn. While that’s cooking slow and low, I am crushing up some fresh mint (yes, you can mojito this up very easily), and as the berries are cooking down, I’m adding a bit of the crushed mint (not all of it) to the cooking.
Once the berries are like 95% cooked down, turn off the heat, and give it a few min to cool down, still stirring once in awhile in order to make sure that you’re not scalding them (especially on an electric stove, as the rings take longer to cool than shutting off gas burner instantly)
Once they are cool, you can strain the juice off, and use that, tossing the “meat” parts and seeds that are left over, or you can just leave it as is, and prep the container you’re gonna use.
A bit of uncooked mint goes in the base area (for popsicles/cubes) or just randomly scattered in the slush, and then pour in the berry happy juice and let it stand for a couple of seconds, tamp it down lightly to make sure it is all settled, and into the freezer it goes.
I’d suggest leaving it there overnight, but if you’re pressed for time, check it in a few hours.
Nananananana Berry Yo’Be Mine
This one is NOT cooked.
Banana(s), Strawberries, Greek Yogurt (that plain stuff that doesn’t have any sweetness in it), Dash of Vanilla Extract, and a kiwi (or two if they are small).
The bananas, strawberries, and kiwi get all mashed together.
It’s not gonna look pretty, but it’s gonna get better, I promise.
Add the yogurt to this mix, and a tiny few drops of the vanilla (you’re not overpowering things, you’re enhancing them!)
Mix until consistency is even throughout, and then drop that into cube trays or popsicle holders. I’ve never tried this version as a slushie, but I do know it would make a great substitute to ice cream!
ALL THE FRUITS!!
I’ve done this one with multiple variations before, and though I’m limited for space here, I’d love to try it with the fresh coconuts.
Legit, you can do this as a variation on the first or second one, hot or cold start, with or without sweetner, just be prepared to know if you are gonna toss all those flavours together, you might want to leave some of the fruits in bits instead of all just muddied together as a slurry.
You won’t want large chunks, so imagine you’re making bite sized morsels for a hamster, and stick with that size for the non-liquified/mashed parts. If you are going to cook some of it and use chunks, COOL THE LIQUID before adding the bits and bites. If you’re going to add yogurt, COOL THE LIQUID. Don’t cook yogurt, or you’ll be dealing with a whole new texture when you’ve frozen it, and it will taste curdled to you and you’ll yak, and that’s not good.
Have fun, add all the flavours you like, and let us know what you come up with!!