My part of the world has just come out of a heatwave. The use of the word ‘heatwave’ is relative of course – those of you in, say, the American West or Australia will laugh me out of the garden! But when the mercury rises there’s no better time to pause the chores, sit out in the garden – perhaps under a shady tree – and just enjoy it.
The steady harvests of late summer often coincide with a spell of warm, sunny weather, so what better way to make the most of your summer fruits than to freeze them into ice lollies to help you cool off while you relax?
Healthier Ice Lollies
Homemade ice lollies are better for you than commercial brands because there’s no need to pack them to the gunnels with sugar. A little goes a long way. They’re an altogether more refreshing, sophisticated affair.
Pop your produce into your popsicles, and they’ll transform the ice lolly from once-in-a-while treat to an everyday boost to the immune system. You can use pretty much any soft, sweet fruit to make your ice lolly. Soft fruits like blackberries, raspberries and the last of the strawberries make excellent flavourings, and you can even drop in some greens to really boost their nutritional value.
You can freeze ice lollies in, for example, washed out yoghurt pots. Hold the sticks upright by piercing them through a piece of foil fit tightly across the top of the pot. It works, but it’s a lot easier to use purpose-sold silicon moulds. The moulds simply peel away from the frozen lolly and are a breeze to wash, ready for the next batch. Help the lolly slip free from its mould by running it under warm water for a moment until the edges begin to melt and soften.
How to Make Fruity Ice Lollies
The starting point to any fruit-based ice lolly is fully ripe (or even slightly over-ripe) fruit. Ripe fruit has the highest possible sugar content, which means you needn’t add much, if any, sweetener. Properly ripe fruit is also softer, making it easier to blend to a smooth consistency.
Taste-check your blended fruit before popping it in the freezer. Freezing fruit knocks back its sweetness – it’s still there, it’s just our tongues are a little numbed by the cold. So err on the sweet side and if necessary add a sweetener of your choice: maple or golden syrup, honey or plain-old sugar. If the blitzed fruit is a little stodgy, add water or fruit juice to loosen it up. Pour into your moulds then freeze for at least five hours or, preferably, overnight.
Frozen Yoghurt Ice Lollies
There’s nothing quite so indulgent as the luxury of a melt-in-the-mouth creamy ice lolly. Frozen yoghurt fits the bill and leaps effortlessly ahead of ice cream on health points.
Greek-style yoghurt is best for getting that smooth, silky texture; regular yoghurt has a higher water content, which can give a grainier finish with more ice crystals. Full-fat coconut milk is a good alternative if you prefer dairy-free, and it imparts a rich, tropical edge. Sweeten your yoghurt or coconut milk then add in your fruit. Blend to a smooth consistency, pour into your moulds and freeze.
Vitamin-Packed Ice Lollies
I love to add a generous, tightly packed handful of greens to my morning smoothies. Greens are powerfully good for you. They put a pep in your step and make you feel great! Kale might be a little strong tasting, but chard and spinach have a very mild, almost neutral taste that is completely dominated by fruits. So take this as another opportunity to squeeze in your fair share of greens by adding them into the blender along with the fruit.
The super healthy among you might like to consider experimenting with other vegetables, including avocado for its naturally creamy texture, and sweeter roots like carrots and beetroot in small, well-blended pinches (well if they’re good enough to use in cakes, why not?).
Are you tempted to make your own ice lollies? Or maybe you have already perfected a go-to recipe that’s popular with all the family? Please share your experiences by leaving a comment below. Stay cool!