I promised y’all a healthy pop today, but I’ll confess that until this afternoon, I was stumped as to what I should make. Strawberry season just ended, and we’ve already devoured the blueberries from our produce box this week. Luckily, I passed by my favorite orchard today and noticed they were open. So:
Local peaches! In season, the first week of June! Oh, happy day.
I was tempted to do a straight peach pop, but I was worried it would go brown. So instead, I pureed a medium-sized peach with a generous dose of orange juice (at least 1/4 cup). As it happened, I ended up with exactly enough base for 3 pops.
While the pops were freezing, I took a few photos of my peaches (dirty!), sipped a flute of champage, and belatedly realized that I could have made a Bellini pop today. (guess what you’re getting tomorrow, if the champagne lasts that long?)
This pop was wonderful. I was worried the orange juice would overpower the peach, and it was stronger than I’d have liked. But the fresh peach flavor still shone through.
And I still have a small army of peaches left. Tomorrow, I make jam! And maybe some cobbler. Perhaps a pie. I love peach season.
The watermelon ice pops I made on Monday were not popular around here. I already mentioned that I thought the flavor was a little flat, and the kids didn’t like theirs, ether. So today I decided to see if I could improve on the basic:
I pretty much think lemonade makes everything better. Plus, I know that you can puree plain old lemon juice with watermelon and get a really great lemonade. So I figured, how could I go wrong?
Well, these came out pretty. Unfortunately, that’s about all I can say for them. I don’t know if the watermelon is past its prime or whether it’s just not that great a combination after all, but these did not taste good. I’m going to have to try again when watermelon is actually in season.
I my post last week about ice pop troubleshooting, I mentioned that there are some substances that are too sweet to freeze solid. At the time, I saw that only as a cautionary note; today’s pop showed me that it can be a good thing, too.
One of the ways I serve strawberries around here, when we’re looking for something beyond just the plain berries, is with a drizzle of chocolate syrup over the top. It’s a healthy little indulgence, and lots of fun to eat. So I decided to see if it would translate to a pop:
As I’ve done with most of my other strawberry pops, I pureed a small handful of fresh strawberries with about a teaspoon of sugar and a splash of water. I began pouring this base into the molds, stopping every so often to squeeze a small dollop of chocolate syrup carefully into each side of the ice pop stick. I had a hunch the syrup wouldn’t freeze (after all, it doesn’t thicken when squeezed onto ice cream), but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see what happened.
When I unmolded the pop, at first I was disappointed:
Not the look I was going for -- my pop looks like it's wounded.
As I suspected, the chocolate syrup didn’t freeze. Instead, it smeared along the sides of the mold, leaving a nice mess. The pop certainly didn’t look appetizing.
But in this case, looks were deceiving. What I didn’t realize from the outside is that some of the syrup I’d poured into the mold had basically been buried within the puree. As I was eating the pop, I kept coming across these great little veins of liquid chocolate. It tasted great, and it was definitely a fun pop to eat. It was well worth the time I spent wiping chocolate syrup off the Zoku.
Ok, so I have made strawberry ice pops before (though never, to my recollection, without at least one additional ingredient). But these count as a new ice pop because they’re special. Really! They’re made out of these:
These are not just strawberries! These are fresh, local strawberries picked just hours ago by my team of workers. I mean, kids. And the best part is, they begged me to allow them to pick a whole bucket of berries. Tom Sawyer had nothing on these pick-your-own farms.
Yes, it’s strawberry season in the south. It’s an event I wait for all year long, because no fruit tastes as good as a freshly-picked strawberry (except maybe a freshly-picked peach, but they’re not out for another 3 months). I adore strawberry season, and I’m always looking for ways to capture the flavor of really good berries, because we all know that the ones they truck across the country the rest of the year don’t taste anywhere near as good.
In my quest, I have tried drying strawberries (failure. They tasted awful) and freezing them (more successful). This year, I intend to make jam, but I also couldn’t resist making an ice pop.
These pops are just strawberries pureed in my Baby Bullet (still hating that thing, by the way). I didn’t add any sweeteners or other liquid, beyond whatever water clung to the berries after I washed them. The puree was quite thick, but it poured well enough.
These were delicious and tasted fresh and springy, but they didn’t capture (or preserve, I guess) the flavor of the berries as well as I’d have liked. In fact, I suspect they’re not much better than if I’d made them with frozen berries or with that puree I’ve used before. Hmm. I think it’s time for my first-ever ingredient showdown. Tune in tomorrow for that (unless I get distracted by something shiny and decide to make a different pop instead).
For today’s pop, I decided to have my cake and eat it too — healthy fruit, with a touch of decadence:
I have always liked the look of ombre fabric, so I decided to try to evoke that with this pop. I layered it, starting with pure strawberry puree and adding more sweetened cream with each layer, until I ended up with a final layer of just the cream. I made the layers 2 teaspoons each, but I probably could have made them larger to good effect.
As you can see, I ran into some technical difficulties with the early layers. The strawberry puree was really thick and didn’t want to pour smoothly. Next time, I will thin it out with some water.
These pops tasted great — just like strawberry ice cream.
And with that, I’m on spring break! See y’all on Easter.
Today, for the first time in a while, I made ice pops for the kids. They wanted something fruity and I felt like making something creamy, so:
Not pictured -- about a teaspoon of sugar
I thinned the yogurt (3 ounces worth) with about two tablespoons of the cream, and added a teaspoon of sugar just to take the edge off the yogurt’s tang. Then I poured the pops in two-tablespoon stripes. I wanted the pops to have three wide stripes, but for that two tablespoons turned out to be a little much, and the last stripe was narrower than the first two.
I really love these little bags of fruit purees. They’re really all fruit, but they taste great and make pop making ridiculously easy. They’re not even that much more expensive than buying bags of fruit. I usually pay between $3-5 for a 12-16 ounce bag of frozen fruit, and I can get these 3-ounce bags of puree for $1 each on sale or $1.25 normally. It’s well worth it to be able to use real fruit with no effort at all.
Today’s pop is all about fruit. A while back, I’d mentioned the little bags of fruit purees I had found at the grocery store, and I decided to use a few today:
I chose peach and strawberry, and I wanted to get a nice, nearly-vertical dividing line. So I tilted my Zoku to as extreme an angle as I thought I safely could, and propped it up with a package of baby wipes (who need to buy special accessories when you can use any old junk you have on hand?)
Oh, that’s why:
Thick puree + poor technique + improvised tools = ugly pop. Still, it is a nice, tasty treat. And 100% fruit (no sugar), so quite healthy. So not a total failure.