This question is part of the Organic Homemade Popsicle Q&A series.
Creating popsicles that aren’t as hard as ice may seem odd because, aren’t popsicles ice? However, there’s ice and then there’s ice pops that are way too icy and hard.
Consider ice cubes – they’re not flaky or soft, they’re rock hard – the result of freezing a plain liquid. It’s the same with flavored ice pops. If your popsicles are liquid heavy, they’ll be harder and less flaky. Flaky is sort of an odd word to use for ice pops, but anyone who has had a great ice pop knows what I mean. Superior ice pops offer crunch, but also a bit of icy flakiness.
It’s like the pink soda grapefruit ice pop shown above – it’s a bit flaky, not hard as ice and you can see and taste the difference. Bad ice pops, or rock hard pops are extremely hard to bite, don’t taste as good or offer a great popsicle experience.
Take, for example, a pure tea ice pop or pure juice from concentrate ice pop – this is an ice pop that will be super hard. Hard ice pops are hard for even adults to eat, but are especially tough for kids.
To combat rock hard pops, do the following:
If you’d like to use plain old liquid to make a batch of ice pops, you’ll need to make some sort of sweetened syrup to combat hardness. Grab a cup of water and a cup of sugar. Bring the mixture to a full boil, then turn off and allow the mix to chill before use.
The sugar syrup egg test. Wash a raw egg (very well). Now, grab whichever pure liquid you’d like to use (i.e. orange juice, apple juice, brewed tea, etc) and pour two or three cups of it into a container. Place the egg, shell and all (don’t break it) into the mixture and it will sink to the bottom. Start pouring in your sugar syrup. Once the egg floats up to the top of the juice, exposing about a dime sized portion of the egg above the liquid, you’ve got enough sugar to combat rock hard pops. If less than a dime sized circle is showing you need to add more sugar syrup. If you’ve got too much egg exposed, you’ll need to add more juice.
If you don’t want to do the egg test, just add about 3/4 cup sugar syrup per 2 cups liquid (the average amount) and see how your pops turn out. If they don’t turn out perfect, adjust your mix the next time you make popsicles.
You don’t need to use the syrup sweetener above. You can get the same effect by adding ice cubes and a sweetener to your mix during the popsicle making process. Anytime you add a sweetener like sugar or honey, some fresh fruit or veggie puree, a dairy base like milk or ice cream, or even vegan gelatin the result will be a more flaky, less rock hard ice pop.
The general rule is never to make pure liquid ice pops unless your goal is a super long-lasting, ultra hard pop. Times you may want a rock hard pop is if you’re making ice pops for someone who is sick – say tea pops and the goal is to have them suck on ice for a long time, say to sooth a sore throat.
Want more organic popsicle goodness – visit organic ice pops 101.
Image © Jennifer Chait