With much of America experiencing a hot summer, finding ways of cooling down that don't require constant air conditioning, installation of a swimming pool, or travel to cooler climates, are both sensible and attractive.
Getting relief from the heat is sometimes best done in the simplest ways- finding a shade tree to relax under, setting up and then running through the sprinkler in your yard, taking a dip in a lake, river, or the ocean, and of course, by eating popsicles! These simple summer rituals have powerful nostalgic value for adults, and engaging in them seems to come naturally to children.
There is no need to spend a lot of money to help you and your family have an enjoyable summer. There can be simple satisfaction and pride in making your own treats as an alternative to always buying them. You will have to pay for some of the necessary ingredients, but sometimes the edible things that grow around you can be utilized and gotten for free! Popsicles made in this way can also be much healthier. There is no need to add all of the artificial colors, flavors, and corn syrup or artificial sweeteners that manufacturers usually use.
If you have children, then you already know how much they love popsicles and other frozen treats. Making these treats can be a fun family project, and it can be something that includes family members of all ages. If you are making popsicles that include berries or other fruits that grow at home, gathering these foods can be especially fun for young children. They are not too young to develop a sense of pride in seeing the results of something that they helped to make, and they will surely be pleased with the results when the weather is sweltering!
Before you begin making popsicles, it is important that you find good quality popsicle molds. They should be made well enough to not break when the finished product is taken out of your freezer. Often, the handles can get stuck in the popsicle itself, causing them to break off when the popsicle is pulled out of the mold. This is frustrating, and can be avoided by using high quality molds. Here are the molds that I use at home, and I highly recommend them:
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If you are concerned about too much refined sugar in your family's diet, then it makes good sense to use fruit juice with no added sugar as the basis for your popsicles. You could buy this from the store, but if you have fresh fruit or berries at home you could also puree these and add water as needed. I recommend using raspberries or strawberries- they are easily pureed and make very tasty popsicles. If you are concerned about sugar, but feel that the fruit purees are not quite sweet enough, then I have found that stevia or agave nectar both work well for this.
Of course, strawberries and raspberries are not the only possibilities. Some other ideas include:
- frozen lemonade, limeade, orangeade or grapeade
- cherries can be expensive, but if they are pitted this makes a great choice
- ... and many other options!
If you aren't a fan of seeds, then pureed blackberries and raspberries can be put through cheesecloth or a sieve to remove them. To make the popsicles, simply pour your ingredients into the molds, insert the handles, and freeze. Although the anticipation may be too much for some to take, it is best to let them solidify for at least a couple of hours.
Children are sure to love these flavors, and many adults will love them too, but adults have a few other options when it comes to creating and enjoying homemade popsicles. To me, these fall into two basic categories:
- Popsicles that include pureed fruits (or even vegetables, if you are really adventerous!) and various herbs, spices, and seasonings
- Popsicles that include pureed fruits and various liquors
This is something that you can really be creative with. Certain fruit and vegetable purees or juices pair very well with herbs, for example. You might be a person who loves citrus, but doesn't want to have something too sweet. You could combine white grapefruit juice with lemon balm or basil. Meyer lemon and thyme perhaps? How about lime and cilantro? I sometimes make mango and ginger popsicles, and they are one of my perennial favorites.
Alcohol- spiked popsicles can be fun for a summer party for grown ups, and there are many possibilities here. I'm sure with a little creativity and experimentation you could successfully make mojito, daiquiri, rum and coke, pina colada, and maybe even bloody mary popsicles! When using alcohol, it is important to use the right proportions. You want your treats to freeze successfully, and too much alcohol will stop that from happening. A general rule of thumb is to use the equivalent of one shot of liquor for each cup of juice or puree. This will ensure uniform freezing, and also give the popsicles an appealingly smooth texture.
As you can see, there are many possibilities for creating and enjoying great homemade popsicles for children and adults alike. Hot summer weather is best faced with a cold and delicious popsicle in hand! Help yourself and the people around you to enjoy their summer by keeping a good supply of healthy and creative popsicles in your freezer. Happy summer!