Thursday, July 3, 2014

Patriotic Ice Pops

Back before central air conditioning and few of us were lucky enough to have a window air conditioning unit that always looked like it was going to fall out of the window and knock someone silly, we spent a lot of time outside. In fact, as kids it was expected that you were outside rain or shine unless it was time for a meal. My sister and I would play on our swing set, or run through the lawn sprinkler in our bathing suits, or play kickball with the neighbor kids in the parking lot of the catholic church behind our home. 

My parents, my sister holding our dog, Tiny, and myself next to our neighbor Sister Mary Marguerite

Midwestern summers are indeed hot. Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Which I'm pretty sure we tried to do at least once or twice. Few things brought relief which is why when we and the neighbor kids heard the jaunty music of the ice cream truck we ran and begged our mothers for change to get an icy treat. Of course we had popsicles in our freezer, that, like the heat, was a given in the Midwest, but they weren't the fancy kind that the ice cream man had. So our mothers would make a bit of a fuss and then reluctantly give in, shelling out nickels and dimes as they were as miserable as us trying to stay cool. 

The ice cream man had a whole assortment of treats but my favorite was the red, white, and blue bomb popsicle. Since the pop was large it insured the longest period of heat relief. It was always a challenge to keep it from dripping. While the original is nostalgic, I have updated the flavors with real fruit. Strawberry, lemon, and blueberry make these red, white, and blue pops both patriotic and delicious. 

While the original was a big popsicle, I thought it would be fun to make these ice pops in mini-size, so I used small paper cups as molds with tiny popsicle sticks. But any popsicle molds would work just fine. The recipe made 22 miniature pops which would be about 12 regular size popsicles.

Patriotic Ice Pops
Makes about 22 small popsicles or 12 regular size popsicles

Strawberry Ice

1 pound (450 g) fresh strawberries
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Remove the stems and slice the strawberries. Put in a glass bowl and add the sugar. Stir to combine. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Purée the strawberries, lemon juice, and the juice from the fruit in a food processor.

Fill molds 1/3 full of pureed strawberries. Freeze until solid 2-4 hours depending on the mold size.

Lemon Ice

2 1/4 cups (560 ml) water
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
2 lemons, preferably organic
3/4 cup (180 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons)

Put the sugar in a medium, nonreactive saucepan. Finely grate the lemon zest from the 2 lemons onto the sugar. Rub the zest into the sugar between your fingers until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the water to the saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1 3/4 cups (310 ml) of water. Chill in the refrigerator until the strawberry ice is frozen.

When ready for the lemon ice layer, stir the lemon juice into the lemon syrup until combined. Fill half of the remaining space in the molds. Return to the freezer and freeze until solid enough to add the popsicle sticks about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Once the sticks are in place freeze until solid.

Blueberry Ice

4 cups (450 g) fresh blueberries
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Stir together the blueberries and sugar mashing the blueberries slightly so the juice will mix with the sugar. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Purée the blueberries, lemon juice, and juice from the fruit in a food processor.

When the strawberry and lemon ice layers are frozen fill the molds with the puréed blueberries. Freeze until solid or over night.

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