Popsicles and Plastics: Guest Post by Martie Duncan

Popsicles and plastics

Woman sitting in the back of a minivanIn the past, popsicles were just for the kids. Not anymore! Popsicles today are as diverse as the many flavors you can use to create them. I got on a popsicle kick last summer and started making my own.

Now, a year later, I am completely obsessed with these frosty concoctions and have lots of new ideas for fruity and creamy creations. I prefer to keep it simple and use plastic cups as molds but there are now so many different inexpensive plastic popsicle molds available that you can buy almost anywhere—some of them even have some really neat innovative features like built in straws or unique shapes.  Why not try something new!

Here are some ideas …

Tricks for Fast, Easy Popsicles

  1. Use chilled ingredients when you can so your pops freeze faster. Allow pops to set up and freeze a bit before inserting the sticks so they will stay centered.
  2. If you are layering flavors or colors, you have to allow the first layer to freeze completely.
  3. If you are using fruit or other add-ins in a juice based liquid, it will usually float to the top of the cup- which will be the bottom of the pop. If you want it to be distributed throughout the whole popsicle, you have to add it as they set up.
  4. When using fruit or mix-ins with a cream based pop, it will usually stay suspended throughout the pop.
  5. If you are using crumbs or sprinkles, add a bit of liquid to them and allow them to freeze completely before adding the other layers.
  6. Anything with a high fat content like heavy cream or Half and Half tastes great- but won’t set up as hard as whole milk will so use it in moderation or you will have a difficult time getting the pops to release from the mold.
  7. Fruit juice and tea freeze very hard so add some water and a bit of sugar before freezing.
  8. Fresh fruits freeze well and taste great. Puree the fruit and add a little agave nectar, simple syrup, or honey to sweeten. Artificial sweeteners don’t freeze well for some reason. I like to use infused simple syrup- like mint or vanilla to make the fruits really exotic and full of flavor.
  9. If you want to add soda to your pops, it’s better to let them go flat first or you’ll have lots of bubbles in the texture and they’ll probably overflow in the freezing process.
  10. Leave a little room at the top of the mold because the liquids will expand when they begin to freeze and spill over unless you allow some room.
  11. Alcohol does not completely freeze. If you want to make adult versions of your pops, you’ll need to dilute the liquor with some fruit juice or water. I recommend making the pops with very light liquor then serving the pops in a pretty glass with a shot of the chilled libation.
  12. To remove pops from plastic molds or cups, very quickly dip them in warm water or rub between your palms for a couple of seconds and they should release.

Molds for Frozen Pops

I typically prefer to use small plastic cups for my frozen treats because they have a wide mouth so they are easy to pour and layer. Small plastic cups are the perfect serving size, they store easily, and you can wash them to use them over and over again. They also help keep melting pops from making a huge mess and still look very pretty in a bowl full of ice for serving, especially the clear plastic cups like these I made with blueberries and strawberries for 4th of July.

There are also lots of innovative popsicle molds on the market like these fun tray and straw molds which allow you to sip the popsicle as it melts.

When I was a kid, we’d make our own popsicles using Kool-Aid and a plastic ice tray. While we didn’t have popsicle sticks so my mom would give us one or two in a Dixie cup and send us outside to eat them.  My current favorite summer serving solution is a spin on this old school classic. I serve popsicles in plastic glasses for a party. For the kids, this helps keep mess to a minimum and for the adults, you can ramp up the festivities by pouring over your favorite chilled libation. Get the how-to for Popsicles & Prosecco Serve popsicles with chilled Prosecco or sparkling soda!

Cocktail Popsicles

Along the same lines, another big trend is cocktail popsicles. Freeze your favorite cocktail into a frosty bite. You can serve these in cups, cocktail glasses, or on a big tray of ice. Remember that alcohol does not completely freeze so you do need some other ingredients and limit the amount of alcohol in the pop. I often put a bottle of my favorite libation (vodka, bourbon, rum, liqueur, etc) into the freezer for a few hours and then simply pour it over the pop served in a pretty glass. Everyone loves this and it is so refreshing as a dessert after a heavy meal or to start the party rocking on a hot night.  If you have kids, be sure to clearly mark your adult pops and keep them away from the little ones, or use special pop holders so there’s no confusion and children don’t grab the wrong treat.