I love a refreshingly cold, frozen fruit bar or popsicle on a hot summer afternoon, but don’t love paying $1 per bar or more for the natural ones (just fruit) or want the cheaper, artificially flavored and colored ice pops.
I was looking for another method of making popsicles without using sticks, paper cups, etc. and after doing some research, found a BPA free popsicle mold which was perfect because there is no point in making natural fruit bars in BPA plastic – it kind of defeats the purpose.
Even when you pay extra for some of the “all-natural” fruit bars, the still may have a lot of additives, natural as they be, but things you do not need to add to yours like guar gum, carbob bean gum, soy lecithin, etc..
When making your own homemade popsicles, you can also control the amount of sugar you add or for that matter, don’t add at all. If I’m using a fruit that is a little on the tart side, I’ll add some kind of sweetener (usually agave nectar), but very little.
Some fruit bars in the stores have more sugar and water than fruit in them. I see on one box that the first two ingredients are water and sugar, then fruit puree, citric acid and then more sugar in the form of corn syrup. When I make strawberry fruit bars, all I do is blend strawberries and perhaps a tablespoon of agave nectar. That’s it.
Our Simply Strawberry Frozen Fruit Bars Recipe
- 1 pint of strawberries
- 1 Tablespoon of agave nectar – to taste or none or any sweetenner you like. I like using agave because it has a low glycemic index (<30) compared to granular sugars (>60). I sometimes will also use Stevia as a sweetener for a less caloric bar.
- Blend the strawberries and sweetener in a blender or food processor until soupy enough to pour.
- Then pour the mixture into the empty pospsicle molds, leaving a little space at the top (which is really the bottom when eating) – about 1/2″ so that the mixture has room to expand when freezing.
- Insert the handles into the molds and snap on securely, then place each popsicle into the base tray by snapping them securely into the grove.
- Seat the entire base with ice pops in your freezer, making sure they are stable, relatively in a flat position and won’t tip over.
- Now’s the hard part. Wait at least four hours (more or less depending on how cold your freezer is) for the popsicles to freeze.
- When they are ready, grab a popsicle and gently squeeze the mold and twist a little back and forth until it is released and can slide out of the mold. I sometimes have to run a little warm water over them to help them loosen up a bit.
Homemade Fudgsicles Recipe
You can make “healthy” fudgsicles or not-so-healthy fudgsicles by adding or altering few key ingredients. Heavy cream, whole milk, sweetened condensed milk and the like will produce a very creamy fudge pop.
If you use skim milk, low-fat soy milk or similar, you will get a more icy consistency than creamy. I’ve used full-fat coconut milk (not the cans of coconut cream you use for mixed drinks) and have been able to get pretty creamy pops with the added benefit of using the more healthier coconut fat.
- 2 cups of dairy or non-dairy milk/cream. You can use 1/2 c heavy cream and 1/2 c whole milk, or 2 cups of half & half, soy milk, coconut milk, etc. for dairy free; skim milk, 1% or 2% milk, or any combination you like to adjust how fattening you want it. Just know the less fat you use, the less creamy the fudgsicle.
- Alternative to above: Add a couple of ripened bananas or avocados or combination with 3/4 cups water instead of using a milk product to get a creamy-like consistency.
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder – I use Hershey’s Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt for flavor boost (optional)
- Sweeteners – Add sweeteners to taste. Since you are mixing this cold, sweeteners like honey, agave nectar, molasses, corn syrup, etc. will blend easier than granulated sugar. Super fine sugar mixes well. I have used a couple tablespoons of agave and a packet of Stevia.
Make a paste by combining the cocoa powder with a few tablespoons or so of the milk in a small cup. This way it dissolves and blends better when you add the remaining ingredients. Now add some milk to your cup and then pour it into a blender with the remaining ingredients. Blend well until smooth.
Add peanut butter to make peanut butter fudge pops. You can blend it in completely or just swirl some in gently at the end to make peanut butter swirls and taste more like a Reese’s cup.
Make mocha fudgsicles by adding coffee flavor. You can do this either by replacing some of the liquid with expresso or strong coffee and cooling it before adding. Or you can add espresso powder directly to your blender mix.
You can also use finely chopped chocolate (semi-sweet, bittersweet, milk chocolate, white chocolate, carob chips if you want) in combination with the cocoa, but then you will need to heat the mixture to melt the chips.
I rather skip this step, especially since it takes more time, heats up the kitchen during the summer and then you have to wait even longer since the mixture needs to cool a little first before pouring into the molds.
Creamy Lemon-Buttermilk Popsicles
This one reminds me of the lemon Italian ice cups I used to get when I was a kid. These lemon ice pops are a little creamy, sweet, yet tart and very refreshing on a hot summer day. I like using buttermilk as an alternative to heavy cream, half-and-half or the like to make these creamy. Much less calories, but still creamy-licious!
- 1/2 cup of sugar. I sometimes use a little less sugar and substitute with stevia
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon extract – you could use grated lemon peel, but I find it sometimes floats to one end of the pospsicle before it freezes so instead I use lemon oil which is equivalent to the same amount of freshly grated lemon peel
- Pinch of salt (optional, but brings out the lemon flavor even more)
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk* – You can of course use fresh buttermilk, but I usually use powdered buttermilk. I’m not a regular buttermilk drinker, so we never have it in the fridge. Instead, I keep a can of the powdered stuff in the fridge so we always have some on hand. There’s no weird ingredients, just buttermilk, sweet dairy whey and lactic acid, so I don’t mind using instant in this case. Note the different directions for using powdered vs fresh buttermilk.
- Whisk the sugar, lemon juice, lemon extract and salt in a bowl until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the fresh buttermilk and mix until well blended. *If using powdered buttermilk, first place the powder in a bowl, then add a little of the 1 1/2 cups of water (to make the buttermilk) to make a paste. If you add all the water at once, sometimes it’s then more difficult to dissolve the powder (same premise in baking by always adding wet to dry ingredients). Slowly add the rest of the water and the other ingredients and whisk to dissolve the sugar.
- Pour in molds and freeze for at least 4 hours. Sit in the shade and enjoy!
Alternatives: I also made these with lime juice and lime extract. You could use key lime juice to give it a key lime pie flavor too. Or mix it up using lemon and lime combinations.
Making other Types of Fruit Bars & Popsicles
There really is no limit to the flavor combinations of ice pops you can make – fruit bars, creamsicles, fudgsicles, yogurt pops etc..
You can use fruit puree, fruit juice, jello, yogurt, coffee, cream, milk, flavored liquors (adults), herbs, extracts, soda pop, pudding and whatever your imagination can conjure up. I mean, personally, I wouldn’t make a turkey gravy ice pop, but some chain restaurant now has a bacon shake, so you never know!
Some tips when making homemade ice pops:
- Use ripened fruit for sweeter pops without added sugar, but note that when you taste your room temperature mixture it will taste sweeter than when frozen so sweeten accordingly.
- Blend fruit enough to prevent having big chunks which when frozen solid, become very hard and not as palatable.
- If you have fruit with seeds you may want to strain the puree. Straining purees also produce a smoother-texture pop.
- When using fruit juice alone and you do not like the hard, icy texture, add more sugar and or corn syrup to create a “softer” ice pop.
- Do not try to remove the popsicles before they are fully frozen. I once tried, thinking they were frozen enough, and after giving it a tug to make the popsicle come out of the mold, only the stick came out. Once that happens, the stick won’t freeze to the rest of the pop, even if you put it back and you’ll have to eat the popsicle with a spoon from the mold.
I like the Tovolo Ice Pop Molds because:
- They are Made from BPA-Free Plastic
- Have Built-In Handle so I Don’t Need to Use Wooden Sticks
- It has a Drip Guard that Keeps Fingers Sticky-Free
- Unlike other Molds, the Bars are Separated which Makes for Easier Extraction
- Durable and Reusable
- Dishwasher Safe
- Inexpensive – Paid for easily in just a couple uses by making your own ice pops as opposed to buying store-bought
- Eco-Friendly – No sticks or wrappers
The Tovolo Popsicle Molds come in a variety of shapes and colors. I have the “Groovy” version that makes vertical grooves in the top half of the pops (see photo above). There are also star and rockets shaped molds plus more. Here are the three most popular shapes and colors:
Be sure to try out some of our homemade ice cream, frozen yogurt & sorbet recipes which are just as easy as making your own popsicles.
Questions: Have you made your own popsicles? What are your favorite flavor combinations? Any tips? Please share below. 🙂 If you want to see more, this page has a nice collection of homemade popsicle recipes sorted by type.