Remember the joy of your tongue changing color from a popsicle when you were a kid? Let’s bring that back this summer!
Why walk to the corner convenience store when you can enjoy the convenience of walking to the kitchen to get luscious popsicles from your freezer?
Popsicles can be a healthy food and a fun food when you make them yourself.
- use fresh pureed fruit
- control the sugar or use a healthier substitute
- hide vegetables in them (see our slimesicles recipe)
3 steps to luscious homemade popsicles
Step One: make the popsicle mixture
What equipment do you need to make popsicles?
You require a good blender to puree the fruit or mix ingredients. You also need a popsicle mold or a sufficient substitute like paper cups or a muffin tin with wooden popsicle craft sticks. It’s also a good idea to use a funnel when pouring the mixture into the mold for less mess. And a strainer will keep large chunks that freeze as hard as rocks out of your popsicle.
You require a good blender to puree the fruit or mix ingredients.
If it can crush ice*, it will be good enough for the task, especially if pureeing frozen fruit.
The Hamilton Beach blender has a fantastic spout for pouring.
2. Popsicle mold
There are lots of choices for popsicle molds.
If choosing a silicone mold, make sure it is made with premium food grade silicone and is BPA free.
If you want to make a “signature” popsicle that everyone recognizes as yours at picnics and parties, use a special shaped mold* as well as an awesome recipe.
It’s difficult to pour the mixture from the blender into the mold without spilling & making a mess.
Using a funnel saves a lot of clean up!
(You will only need the smallest funnel in the set on the left from Amazon*, but they come with a filter that fits them all and is great for keeping big chunks out. They can freeze as hard as stones!)
4. Fine Mesh Strainer
If you are making popsicles from fruit puree, you will need a strainer* to keep big chunks of fruit from going in the mold. They freeze as hard as rocks!
Choose the type of popsicle you’d like to make.
did you know?
There are 2 types of homemade popsicles:
- Fruity with a fruit puree or fruit juice base. (Can be made from fresh or frozen fruit.)
- Creamy with a milk, milk alternative, cream or yogurt base.
- ripe or even over-ripe fruit is the best for a puree because it will require less sweetener
- you can use any type of fruit or fruit combination that you wish
- taste the mixture and make sure the taste (fruitiness & sweetness) is intense because after freezing there is less flavor
- to create more flavor you can add fruit juice
- instead of a fruit puree you can use fruit slices or pieces in water (sweeten with white or light corn syrup so it stays clear & without ice crystals)
- sweeten with sugar, honey, agave nectar, corn syrup or maple syrup
- you will need 2 1/2 cups of fruit puree to make 8 popsicles
Pro tips for success with fruity popsicles:
You must add sweetener to your base or it will freeze rock hard as well as not be as tasty after freezing.
Corn syrup is an ideal sweetener because it helps avoid ice crystals.
Fruit can sink to the bottom of the popsicle. If you’d like to keep the fruit uniform, fill the popsicle mold 1/4 full and freeze until slushy – about 40 minutes. Then pour more mixture in.
- use milk, milk substitutes like almond milk, full-fat coconut milk or yogurt as the base
- remember that after it is frozen it won’t have as much flavor so be sure to make it extra sweet with a boost of flavor
- you can use your favorite smoothie as a popsicle base
Pro tips for success with creamy popsicles:
- add 1 Tbsp corn starch to popsicle to keep it creamy with less ice crystals
- Greek yogurt has the least water, so less ice crystals
- Coconut milk gives popsicles a smooth texture
Step Two: filling the mold
How to make popsicle molds at home.
If you’re trying homemade popsicles for the first time, or if it’s a once in awhile project, you may not want to invest in a popsicle mold. It’s easy to make popsicles molds at home.
You can pour your popsicle mixture into paper Dixie cups or a muffin tin, freeze until slushy (about 40 minutes), and then insert wooden popsicle sticks (craft stores carry them). Then the sticks will stay straight.
Or, you can cover the container with plastic wrap, cut a slit in the center and put in the stick. This helps it stay in place. To remove frozen popsicle, just peel the paper off or dip the bottom of the muffin tin in a sink with a little warm water to loosen them first.
How to fill the popsicle mold without a mess.
It’s very difficult to pour the popsicle mixture out of a heavy blender into the little holes in the mold. It’s much easier to pour into the mouth of a funnel.
When things freeze, they expand. (We learned this in physics class, right?) So be sure to leave 1/4″ at the top of the mold to allow for expansion. No one wants overflow in their freezer!
The funnel inside the mold also displaces some of the liquid so you won’t make it too full for freezing.
(Another thing we learned in physics class – the Archimedes Principle. When something is immersed in a liquid, it experiences an upward buoyant force, which is equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by the body.)
Step Three: unmold and enjoy your homemade popsicles
How do you unmold popsicles?
Loosen the popsicles first so they don’t break. You can either run warm water along the bottom of the mold or let it sit in a sink with a warm water for a couple of seconds. (There’s that displacement again. Who knew that what we learned in physics would eventually help us make popsicles!)
How to keep popsicles in the freezer.
It’s more convenient to grab a quick treat if the popsicles are already out of the mold. If you have to soften all of them to loosen one or two it’s not good to keep refreezing them.
Instead, remove them and wrap in waxed paper or parchment paper to keep them from sticking to one another. Then put them all in a large plastic zippered bag or air tight container to keep them from absorbing smells in the freezer.
How long can you keep homemade popsicles in the freezer?
The rule of thumb about the shelf life of a homemade popsicle is about 6 – 8 months. If they are sticky or smell funny (they can take on the smells in the freezer) they are probably past due.
Homemade Popsicle Tips & Tricks for Success
How do you make popsicles creamy instead of watery?
Here’s the science from Tasteful Science, a food science blog:
“When you freeze water to make ice cubes it forms large crystals. The larger the crystals are, the harder the ice is going to be to break (or to bite). When my friends and I made orange juice ice pops, it also formed these large ice crystals, making them hard to eat.”
We have to get rid of the large ice crystals so the popsicle isn’t hard or watery.
Here’s the secret to making popsicles creamy instead of watery:
- You must add a sweetener to keep it from freezing as hard as a rock. Do not try to make sugar-free popsicles!
- Fats also keep popsicles from building ice crystals. Full fat Greek yogurt or coconut milk makes popsicles have an amazing texture.
- The best thing to add for a creamy popsicle is corn syrup as a sweetener or 1 Tbsp of corn starch as a stabilizer.
How to keep popsicles from dripping on children’s hands.
Here is a hack to keep popsicles from dripping all over your kids. (They take too long to eat them, because they don’t want “brain freeze”!) Push the popsicle stick through the middle of a foil cupcake wrapper to create a cup around the bottom of it.
How to make spiked popsicles.
Also called poptails or boozy popsicles, adults enjoy their popsicles with a little something extra now and then. (And we do mean a little since alcohol doesn’t freeze.)
Add 1 oz of your favorite alcoholic beverage to 1 cup of fruit puree or juice. Freeze for 12 hours, or overnight.
How to make popsicles more fun.
There are 2 ways to make popsicles more fun. First, you can freeze them into fun shapes with popsicle molds. (See some on Amazon*.)
Secondly, you can drizzle chocolate or sauces, and cover them with your favorite sundae toppings like Oreo or graham cracker crumbs, sprinkles, or fruit pieces, before freezing. You can keep it classy or go wild and add cereal or any snack food you can think of – like pretzels!
How to take homemade popsicles on a picnic or road trip.
There are a couple ways to take popsicles on a picnic. You can buy popsicle wrappers at Amazon* so they look oh so professional.
Or, you can wrap them with waxed paper or parchment paper to keep them from sticking together. Keep the paper fastened with fun stickers! Bundle them in a zippered plastic bag or air tight container, put them in a cooler and off you go!
How long will popsicles last in a cooler?
Popsicles will last about 2 – 4 hours in a cooler. It is dependent on certain factors like the quality of the ice used, if the cooler is kept in the shade, and how many times the cooler is opened.
Why is it called a popsicle?
In Frozen History, the History Channel says, “The mastermind behind this summer indulgence wasn’t a marketing honcho, or even a chef—it was an 11-year-old boy.”
In 1905, Frank Epperson of Oakland, California, made himself a drink something like Koolaide. He stirred a glass filled with water & powdered soda mix with a wooden stick. Then he got sidetracked and left his concoction outside one chilly night and woke in the morning to find it was frozen – and the stick made an excellent handle.
Epperson knew he was onto something. His first sales of “epsicles” were to his classmates. Then in the early 1920s he sold them at Neptune Beach, California.
Later, he made them for his kids. He wanted his children to call them “Epsicles” too but they called them “Pop’s sicles”. Say that fast 10 times and you’ll know why it is called a popsicle! It’s so cute that this is the name that stuck & now everybody for generations calls it that name.
The rest of the story is about battling patents & popsicle companies. If you’d like to read more about Epperson’s patent for drink on a stick owned by Lowe Company versus Harry Burt’s patent for ice cream pops owned by Good Humor, read all the gory details at npr.org.
Just so you know: eventually there’s a happy ending. According to the National Archive’s blog both companies are now owned by the same company, Good Humor-Breyers Ice Cream, who manufactures both Popsicles and Good Humor Bars. Gotta luv it.