My part of the world has just come out of a heatwave. The use of the word ‘heatwave’ is relative of course – those of you in, say, the American West or Australia will laugh me out of the garden! But when the mercury rises there’s no better time to pause the chores, sit out in the garden – perhaps under a shady tree – and just enjoy it.
The steady harvests of late summer often coincide with a spell of warm, sunny weather, so what better way to make the most of your summer fruits than to freeze them into popsicles to help you cool off while you relax?
Homemade popsicles are better for you than commercial brands because there’s no need to pack them to the gunnels with sugar. A little goes a long way. They’re an altogether more refreshing, sophisticated affair.
Pop your produce into your popsicles to transform them from once-in-a-while treat to an everyday boost to the immune system. You can use pretty much any soft, sweet fruit to make your popsicles. Soft fruits like blackberries, raspberries and the last of the strawberries make excellent flavorings, and you can even drop in some greens to really boost their nutritional value.
You can freeze popsicles in, for example, washed out yogurt pots. Hold the sticks upright by piercing them through a piece of foil fit tightly across the top of the pot. It works, but it’s a lot easier to use purpose-sold silicon molds. The molds simply peel away from the frozen popsicle and are a breeze to wash, ready for the next batch. Help your popsicle slip free from its mold by running it under warm water for a moment until the edges begin to melt and soften.
How to Make Fruity Popsicles
The starting point to any fruit-based popsicles is fully ripe (or even slightly over-ripe) fruit. Ripe fruit has the highest possible sugar content, which means you needn’t add much, if any, sweetener. Properly ripe fruit is also softer, making it easier to blend to a smooth consistency.
Taste-check your blended fruit before popping it in the freezer. Freezing fruit knocks back its sweetness – it’s still there, it’s just our tongues are a little numbed by the cold. So err on the sweet side and if necessary add a sweetener of your choice: maple or golden syrup, honey or plain-old sugar. If the blitzed fruit is a little stodgy, add water or fruit juice to loosen it up. Pour into your molds then freeze for at least five hours or, preferably, overnight.
Frozen Yogurt Popsicles
There’s nothing quite so indulgent as the luxury of a melt-in-the-mouth creamy popsicle. Frozen yogurt fits the bill and leaps effortlessly ahead of ice cream on health points.
Greek-style yogurt is best for getting that smooth, silky texture; regular yogurt has a higher water content, which can give a grainier finish with more ice crystals. Full-fat coconut milk is a good alternative if you prefer dairy-free, and it imparts a rich, tropical edge. Sweeten your yogurt or coconut milk then add in your fruit. Blend to a smooth consistency, pour into your molds and freeze.
I love to add a generous, tightly packed handful of greens to my morning smoothies. Greens are powerfully good for you. They put a pep in your step and make you feel great! Kale might be a little strong tasting, but chard and spinach have a very mild, almost neutral taste that is completely dominated by fruits. So take this as another opportunity to squeeze in your fair share of greens by adding them into the blender along with the fruit.
The super healthy among you might like to consider experimenting with other vegetables, including avocado for its naturally creamy texture, and sweeter roots like carrots and beetroot in small, well-blended pinches (well if they’re good enough to use in cakes, why not?).
Are you tempted to make your own popsicles? Or maybe you have already perfected a go-to recipe that’s popular with all the family? Please share your experiences by leaving a comment below. Stay cool!