There you are, the concerned parent-consumer, looking at a box of Edy’s Whole Fruit Strawberry Fruit Bars. You already read the ingredients on the box of Popsicles and it scared the bejabbers out of you, but the Edy’s box looks like this:
Water, Strawberries And Strawberry Puree, Sugar, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Color (Beet Juice Extract, Turmeric Color), Vegetable Stabilizers (Carob Bean Gum, Guar Gum), Which Inhibit Ice Crystal Growth.
Terrific! you think, and happily buy them. Your kid loves them, you love them, your family eats them all, and you congratulate yourself for having appeased everyone’s need for frozen summertime treats without questionable ingredients and without needing to visit another store. You are so great.
You return to the store the next week, just wanting to get your groceries and get the hell out of there before you end up with a bunch of stuff you don’t really need, and then you pass the frozen foods.
Gee, you think, those strawberry ones were good. Let’s get tangerine this time. You buy them, bring them home, and as you’re ripping open the box in your kitchen, you see the ingredients:
Water, Sugar, Tangerine Juice From Concentrate, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citrus Pulp, Citric Acid, Tangerine Oil, Natural Flavor, Vegetable Stabilizers (Guar Gum, Carob Bean Gum), Which Inhibit Ice Crystal Growth, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Yellow #6, Red #40.
Whoa! What the frig? How did these go from sugar and beet juice color to high fructose corn syrup and a food dye banned in at least eight countries â€” within the same line of products?
With a heavy heart, you resign yourself to making your own natural frozen fruit treats, but thinking back to your youth, you remember when that Time for Timer blob convinced you frozen orange juice on a toothpick would be just as good as a popsicle.
“Sunshine on a stick,” my ass, you think, because you are now an adult and are allowed to use the word “ass” whenever you like. It separated into a hard, icy stratum of orange pulp and water, it was sour, and, your mother informed you, a waste of perfectly good orange juice.
And now, you stand there in front of the open freezer, wondering if you can make the trip to the all-natural, slightly-more-than-you-really-wanted-to-pay grocery store and back in the August heat without having the popsicles melt en route. Your heart sinks. Maybe if I bring a cooler…
My comrades-in-parenting-arms! Fear not the all-natural frozen treat! In honor of Mothers’ Day, I’m here to help.
First, let’s revisit the Time for Timer guy’s “popsicles” â€” specifically, why they suck. The reason: no sugar. Sugar acts like antifreeze, lowering the freezing point of your popsicle, keeping it softer and slushier, as opposed to the hard, icy, so-called Sunshine on a Stick. Additionally, cold mutes our ability to taste sweetness, so something that tastes fine as a liquid will often taste sour or bitter when frozen.
That being said, making your own popsicles is shockingly easy. Here it is:
Fruit. Sugar. Water.
The fruit: you could use fresh summer fruits for this, but that just seems like a waste. Fresh summer fruits should be enjoyed, well, fresh. I used a 10 oz. bag of frozen peaches for this.
The sugar: did you not hear what I just said? You need sugar â€” or sucanat or agave nectar or something â€” for this.
The water: nothing special about this. You need to make a simple syrup, which is a 1:1 ratio of granulated sugar and water. (Agave nectar folks, you’re on your own on this one.)
And now, I put it all together in this recipe, which you can clip out and paste on your freezer for easy access:
Frozen Fruit Pops
- One 10-12 oz. bag of frozen fruit, thawed
- 0.5 cup sugar
- 0.5 cup water
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir. Heat until the water is no longer cloudy and no sugar crystals remain. Place fruit in blender, add half the simple syrup, and blend until smooth. Taste. If it tastes sweet enough, it’s not. Add more syrup until it’s just a little too sweet, then pour into molds and freeze 24-48 hours to ensure the pops are solidly frozen.
[Addendum: In Popsicle's defense, they have introduced a line of popsicles with "Natural Colors and Flavors." They all still have HFCS, but y'know, baby steps. I guess.]
Okay! Still waiting for suggestions for next week’s post! Get ‘em in by tomorrow or suffer in silence while I write up someone else’s idea.
With just two posts left before I fade away into AH obscurity…