On hot summer days in my youth, we’d make our own popsicles. A little Hawaiian punch in an ice cube tray covered with plastic wrap, toothpicks poked through and frozen to perfection. They weren’t really much more than pink, vaguely sweet, ice cubes, but man, we thought we were geniuses. And they were a summer staple. My penchant for homemade popsicles has remained over the years. Fortunately, we’ve gotten a little better at it. These days, my favorite ingredients for DIY popsicles are a little more substantial and, in many cases, are found right here in my own garden.
The first upgrade from the “popsicle” cubes of my childhood is a proper mold. There are plenty of popsicle makers available of varying shapes and sizes. Stick-wise, many molds available sport reusable plastic stems for your pops. Those are fine and all, but isn’t the familiar wooden stick really the hallmark of a proper popsicle? Whichever you choose, it’s a guaranteed step up from an ice cube tray and toothpicks.
And now the good stuff. Hawaiian punch is still on the table, but using natural ingredients and relying on the sweetness of fresh produce instead of sugar means you’ll have a popsicle that’s not just tasty, it may even be downright good for you. If you can juice it, chances are it’ll make a pretty decent popsicle. Apple juice or orange juice are a good start, but how about a pomegranate popsicle? Step off the path with a carrot-sicle and you may be surprised how sweet and flavorful it is. Berries or melon can be pureed and “popped” to perfection. If a creamier treat is to your taste, try adding a dollop of yogurt.
Here are three recipes to get you started. It’s no coincidence that these all feature ingredients that I’m growing in my garden this summer. The creamsicles were a hit with the kids and I was thrilled with my decision to raid the herb garden for watermelon popsicles with a refreshing kick of mint.
My favorite though is the cantaloupe pop. Cayenne pepper may not sound like a typical popsicle ingredient, but then, these are not your typical popsicles. Once you get your freeze on, the possibilities are endless. I’m already plotting next year’s popsicle garden.
Puree ingredients together in a blender, pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Each recipe makes ten 3-ounce popsicles.
2 cups hulled strawberries
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 cups watermelon, seeds removed
1/4 cup mint, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups cantaloupe
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper