Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For the Love of All Things Frozen: Homemade Popsicles 101

There are few things that say summer like a cold and delicious popsicle.  I love them all.  Especially the ones that taste like root beer or fake bananas.  I always break the two sides apart and eat them separately. Awesome.

However, in my pursuit to only eat real food (due, in part, to Michael Pollan), I'm trying to switch from the the neon blue popsicles and the Otter Pops (much to my husband's chagrin) to homemade popsicles.  I'd say it's been a pretty smooth transition. Not only are they a tasty alternative to the the store-bought kind, but they're also cheap and ridiculously easy to make. Double whammy.

In my opinion, the key to making homemade popsicles a viable alternative to the store-bought kind is the right mold.  When I was a kid, I remember my mom tried to make homemade popsicles, but they were way too wide. No go. I've also seen people make popsicles out of Dixie cups or reused plastic yogurt cups, but that always seems like a hassle and you have to use new sticks every time. Plus, like my mom's aforementioned molds, I think they're too big around to comfortably eat (very important in my book). Especially for little kids' mouths. Wow, I'm starting to sound like some kind of popsicle connoisseur.

Last summer I bought some inexpensive molds at Target, but my son didn't like them and neither did I. The shape and size was just kind of weird. Then I saw the ones pictured above at Ikea and they're perfect. They're wide at the base and narrow at the top.  Much better than the brick-of-a-popsicle my other mold from Target made. Another thing that's cool about the Ikea molds are that they come individually and fit in a little rack. That way, you don't have to thaw out the entire mold (like my old one), or a section of it, to get a popsicle out. Plus, they don't take up much room in the freezer.  The cherry on top:  the Ikea molds only cost $1.99.  The molds pay for themselves after a batch or two of popsicles.  Cha-ching!

If you don't have an Ikea close by, there are lots of other molds you can buy online.  One site I found featured a few cool molds - they do cost a little more than the Ikea ones, though. I think the Lekue ones look pretty cool (and awesome for little kids). Then there's this link that has the popsicle maker that makes them in seven minutes! I don't suggest buying it, but it looks cool. Plus, they have a few good recommendations about the Tovolo molds -- from what I've read, they seem to be the the most popular brand. I still stand by the cheaper Ikea ones, though.

Wow, I really discussed molds more than I planned on. Oh well. On to the ingredients!

The awesome thing about homemade popsicles is that you can fill them with whatever your family likes. One reason they're economical is because you're getting exactly what you want. Ever get boxes or bags of popsicles and have a few that last extra long and get coated with freezer burn frost because no one likes one particular flavor? I know we have. They're also great for the frugal family because you're likely to already have the ingredients on hand. No special trip to the store necessary.

At our house, we've filled our molds with limeade and lemonade (regular and raspberry lemonade. We looove the Simply Lemonade/Limeade brand). This is a really refreshing option, almost like a drawn-out glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. Ahhhhh.  One thing that my son loves are chocolate popsicles. Being the sneaky mom I am, I made them out of chocolate almond milk and he gobbles them up.  Healthy and delicious!  Today, I'm mixing up a recipe I got from Family Fun (wow, two mentions of that magazine two days in a row) for coconut-pineapple popsicles. You can put whatever you want in them: fruit juice, yogurt, milk, smoothies, whatever! I even read on one site about making popsicles out of tea; I'm already contemplating how awesome my favorite herbal tea (Tazo Passion)would be as a popsicle.  The options are endless! And in lots of cases, they're even better than the ones at the store.

While you have popsicles on the brain (and possibly a craving for one like I do right now), check out these two things I read.  One is from Orangette, where she not only writes about the nostalgia behind the homemade popsicles, but also shares a recipe for raspberry yogurt popsicles that I have to try.  The other is from the Here you can learn about the history of the popsicle (did you know an eleven-year-old invented it?), along with some suggestions. I'm definitely going to try the watermelon one. The frozen pickle juice one? Not so much.

Do you make homemade popsicles? Did you have them while you were growing up? What do you put in your popsicle molds?


Nisha said...

I can't tell you how happy I am that you wrote this post. I've been on the hunt for good Popsicle molds, but hadn't checked IKEA yet. Now...I can't get there soon enough. I hope you bought them recently and they still have them.

Tara said...

I loved making popsicles when I was little-leftover Koolaid was the drug of choice in our house. But Limeade?? YUMMY! Add a little grape juice to that and lime rickey! YUM! Totally getting some today!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

What???? Why didn't I see these at IKEA when I was there? I bought mine at BBB (with a gift card from my Discover cash back bucks) and they were NOT $2, my friend. Mine were labeled BPA and phthalate free (so no vinyl) but IKEA never uses vinyl, so a great place to buy them, if you care about what type of plastic you are using.

crazy mumma said...

I know this is an old post but I join you in your Ikea ice pop mold love. After 15yrs and countless molds and $$$ these ones really do work. And the big bonus is they are a set of 6 and I have 6 kids!!!

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