There’s nothing that says summer to me more than walking to the pool, ice pop in hand.
Who cares if my hands get sticky as the frozen, sugary liquid melts in the beaming sunlight? I’m 30 seconds away from jumping in the cool, crisp water, rinsing away the syrup along with my cares.
I consider myself a do-it-yourself type, especially when it comes to desserts, and ice pops are a fun, versatile treat to learn to make on your own.
Flavors can vary from fruity and fresh to chocolatey and creamy. You can add booze (in small amounts — just a few tablespoons — or they won’t freeze) or fresh fruit chunks. After pops are frozen, they can be dipped in chocolate, more booze, or sprinkled with nuts or other toppings.
Have a favorite smoothie flavor? Freeze it into an ice pop to enjoy it a new way. Favorite juice? Same thing. An abundance of fruit? Blend it in the blender with simple syrup (one part water, one part sugar), then freeze.
If you want to get creative with flavor combinations, you can infuse simple syrup with herbs (mint, basil, thyme), spices (cinnamon, ginger) and other flavors (citrus zest) before blending it with the fruit.
For example, when making the watermelon pops in the recipe here, you could cook the simple syrup with mint leaves. Pick out the leaves before adding the syrup to the fruit.
To make ice pops at home, you don’t need any special equipment, though some is available. It can be as simple as an ice cube tray and toothpicks.
For a step up from that, you can purchase wax-lined paper cups and use ice pop sticks. Various stores also sell ice pop molds. Mine is a $1.99 bright pink and yellow number I picked up at Ikea, available on their website.
If you have the desire for a special ice-pop-making machine and can spend at least $25, you can acquire a Zoku Quick Pop Maker.
The Zoku, once frozen in your freezer for at least 24 hours, claims to freeze ice pops in 7 minutes. My own experience varied, but it typically took 10 minutes or more, which is still notably faster than freezing them the usual way, which can take four to eight hours.
I brought a Zoku home and popped it in the freezer to make some watermelon pops, which I shared with my housemates as taste testers.
One was so taken with the machine that when I returned home the following day, she had made five different varieties of ice pops and was working on her sixth.
That’s the beauty of the homemade ice pop — basically anything you feel like drinking, you can pour into a mold, freeze and enjoy as a refreshing treat.
Grab your mold of choice and let the possibilities inspire you to create something new to cool you off this summer.