Commenter Sarah asked for tips to keep her Zoku Ice Pops from sticking in the maker. Putting aside for the moment the idea of a defective Zoku (which can happen), here’s what I have learned in the last hundred-odd pops:
1. Your Ice Pop base needs to be sweet, but not too sweet.
According to the Zoku Ice Pop Maker instruction manual, any base you use to make ice pops needs to be sweet or else the pops will stick. That doesn’t mean sweetened — some liquids, like juice, have natural sugars that prevent the pops from sticking to the ice pop molds. You should never have a problem, for instance, making pops out of straight orange juice or something similar.
That said, it’s possible for some pop ingredients to be too sweet to freeze properly. This happened to me on Day 3, for example, when I tried to use prepared pie filling to decorate/flavor a yogurt ice pop. The pie filling didn’t freeze at all; it just got gooey.
Honestly, I don’t know where the sweet/too sweet line lies yet. I’ve been too risk averse. But I know for sure that things like sweetened condensed milk are too sweet to be frozen straight. They must be diluted rather drastically or else they’ll never get firm enough to pull from the molds. (see my Lemon Bar experiment).
2. Artificial sweeteners are verboten
I don’t know why it’s so, but according to the Zoku manual, you cannot make ice pops with artificial sweetener. Honestly, this one’s no skin of my nose, since I don’t like them.
3. Too much fat is as bad as too much sugar
This one took me by surprise when I ran afoul of it. I’d mixed peanut butter, chocolate cream cheese and enough milk that the base seemed thin enough. And yet they stuck.
Fact is, high-fat items seem to have as hard time freezing solid as high-sugar ingredients. When using them to make ice pops, it’s really important to make sure they’re diluted with enough lower-fat liquid that they won’t stick. I haven’t yet worked out the perfect proportions, but it seems to be at least 3 parts liquid to 1 part of the richer ingredient.
4. Thick bases might stick.
Even when you’re using a low-fat and reasonably-sugared base, some base ingredients are simply too thick to pour and/or freeze well. For instance, I use a lot of yogurt when I make pops for my kids. According to the Zoku manual, straight yogurt might stick, so I always thin mine out with milk. As best as I can tell so far, once the yogurt is thinned out enough to pour easily, it’s probably thin enough to freeze well and come out of the molds with no problem.
5. Your Zoku must be clean and dry
This one is quite tricky, and frankly my least favorite thing about the Zoku Ice Pop Maker (though I don’t think there’s really any way to fix it). Fact is, to do what it does, the Zoku has to be COLD. That means that any liquid that touches its metal bits will freeze, fast. To clean a frozen Zoku, you need to rely on wiping and scraping out the molds with a dry cloth (or paper towels). If you need to give the Zoku a proper cleaning, you need to thaw it first. Then, once it’s clean, it needs to be completely dry before you freeze it again. Any leftover water will freeze in the molds and, according to the Zoku manual, can cause the next round of ice pops to stick.
Sarah, I can’t tell from your comment which one of these issues could be what you’re dealing with. From your description of the pop remover just spinning without gaining purchase, I’d guess your base is too high-fat and/or too thick. At any rate, that’s what happened when I had that particular mistake.
If you’re already following all of these tips and your pops still won’t come out of your ice pop maker, then you may have a defective Zoku (or, at least, a defective remover tool). I’d call or email Zoku to see about a replacement. I’ve emailed their customer service department before, and have found them to be responsive.
I hope this helps! If you have any specific questions or more information to give about your particular situation, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to address it.