C’mon, we all know Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer regardless of what else is going on or where the weather stands. It’s also, in my world at least, the start of the summer fruit season. Right now it’s only rhubarb at the market but strawberries are starting to appear followed quickly by the berries, cherries, stone fruits and melons in rapid sucession. With this also comes my habitual need to buy everything in sight. When all that gorgeous fruit is popping, I simply cannot help myself.
What I often do, especially for those two glorious July weeks when sour cherries are in season, is to buy a flat or two with the intention of freezing. I put the fruit in a single layer on a plastic wrap lined sheet pan and pop it into the freezer. Once frozen solid, it’s transferred to a labeled Ziploc freezer bag for easier storage. Seasonal frozen fruit makes beautiful pies, delicious jams and the one off smoothie here and there with the added benefit of being ready when you are. Let me make this clear: there is nothing better than a sour cherry pie in January made from the freezer stash. Oh hallelujah.
Last month it was time for my annual freezer purge. I have two freezers in my small apartment, both packed to the gills, and needed to make room for some newly acquired tasty things (pig!) I dug and sorted and rather quickly had a large pile of frozen fruit to deal with, mainly berries of various kinds. There were small Ziploc bags of blackberries, raspberries AND black raspberries as well as a few bags of strawberry puree. I decided to take all this fruit and make popsicles but rather than use my bulky popsicle molds, which had no chance in hell of fitting into my packed freezers, I dug out some ice pop sleeves I’d purchased a while back. Long and narrow, I figured I could jam them into the open spaces throughout my freezers. Sound logic, methinks.
The process was simple: fruit puree, simple syrup and maybe something additional to make it a little interesting. I developed a basic formula and made small batches fruit by fruit, adding simple syrup to taste, maybe a little lemon or lime juice, some spices or herbs and in one case with a large overripe pineapple, some coconut milk and rum to make pina colada ice pops. Whoo whee were those good! Keep in mind that sugar and booze inhibit freezing so don’t use too much or your pops won’t freeze solid. Mix up a slew of these things and enjoy them at your will all summer long.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: SUMMER SMILES. Though kids will completely adore them, I think of these as Otter Pops for adults particularly if you’ve made Pina Colada Pops. Yeah, you might want to keep an eye on those. Its also a fantastic use of summer fruit that has a tendency to accumulates if you are anything like me. Mix and match, add flavor boosters and make as many as you want, have or need. Bright, full of flavor and incredibly easy; they’ll be the hit of your summer.
Other recipes that make fabulous ice pops: Mango Lassi Freezer Pops, Strawberry Hibiscus Popsicles, Avocado Lime Tequila Popsicles, Creamsicles, Spicy Pineapple Paletas
Seven years ago: Chino Farms Strawberries
Six years ago: Rhubarb Custard Pie
Five years ago: Banana Tarte Tatin
Four years ago: Pear Frangipane Tarts
Three years ago: Pickled Garlic
Two years ago: Guinness Crème Anglaise
Last year: Parmesan Pea Dip
SUMMER FRUIT ICE POPS
- 1 cup fruit puree will make about 2-3 ice pops depending on the size of your plastic sleeves how much you fill them.
- If you don’t have quite enough fruit puree to make a full pop, add a few spoonfuls of yogurt or sour cream to stretch it a bit.
- If you don’t feel like messing with the ice pop sleeves, pour these mixtures into popsicle molds.
- Get ice pop bags here
- Rather than goof around with a heat sealer, I simply tie off the end of the bag. Works just fine.
- It’s a lot easier to fill the bags if your mixture is pourable. If too thick, thin with a bit of water and/or tap it into the bag with the help of a chopstick.
- If you’re opposed to sugar, try honey or maple syrup.
- As mentioned above, keep in mind sugar and booze inhibit freezing so go easy
1 cup fruit puree + 3 Tablespoons simple syrup + additional flavors (optional)
- In a blender, puree the fruit until smooth. Transfer to a measuring cup.
- In the blender, add the measured fruit puree, simple syrup + additional flavorings if using.
- Buzz on high until well blended and smooth (chunky mixtures won’t pass well through the funnel.) The mxiture should be easily pourable; if too thick add a little water or juice to thin.
- Transfer the mixture to a glass measuring cup with a pour spout.
- To fill the ice pop bag: scrunch up an ice pop sleeve on the spout of a funnel, leaving about 6” hanging loose.
- Pour the fruit mixture into the funnel to fill the bag, filling to the desired amount/length. Be sure to leave enough length to knot the end to seal. Once knotted, cut off any excess length.
- Place the filled pop on a sheet pan, label the flavor with a sharpie and freeze until solid (the sheetpan ensures the pop freeze straight which makes for easy storage. Once solid you can remove the pan.)
- Ice pops will keep for several months frozen.
Makes about 1 ½ cups
1 cup sugar
- In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring until dissolved. Boil for 1-2 minutes to thicken slightly.
- Let cool before using. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.
- Mixed Berry – 1 cup raspberry/blackberry/blueberry puree + 3 Tablespoons simple syrup + 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Raspberry or Blackberry Lime– 1 cup berry puree + 3 Tablespoons simple syrup + 1 ½ teaspoons fresh lime juice
- Berry Yogurt – 1 cup berry puree + ¾ cup vanilla yogurt + 2 Tablespoons simple syrup + 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Strawberry Lemon Verbena (or Mint) – 1 cup strawberry puree + 3 Tablespoons simple syrup + 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon verbena or mint leaves (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried)
- Pineapple – 1 cup pineapple puree + 3 ½ Tablespoons simple syrup + 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Pina Colada – 1 cup pineapple puree + 2/3 cup coconut milk + 2 Tablespoons simple syrup + 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice + 1 Tablespoon dark rum