Fruitsicles–fresh fruit puree popsicles in push-up tube bags-were a delicious accident on my road to sorbet…and a great way to use summer fruit.
They’re also relatively good for you; you get the vitamin C, fiber, and all the calcium, iron, magnesium, etc., found in fresh fruit for a measly 47 calories per fruitsicle (52 cal for wineberry, probably 60 cal for the yoberry–see below). And these are rich enough that one is probably all you want.
I bought a nearly new ice cream freezer from the internal Craigslist at work, and decided to try it on berry sorbets. That Saturday I bought three flats of going-fast berries at the farmer’s market (for a song), then I came home, pureed the lot, and started experimenting with different fruit puree mixtures for sorbets.
The ice cream maker I’d gotten was the kind with the gel-filled containers you prefreeze before use. You dump the mix into your frozen container, set it in the Cuisinart and start it up. Thirty minutes (and a significant loss of hearing) later, your frozen treat is ready.
Unfortunately, the Cuisinart’s containers only hold about a quart of puree, so I’d made way too much. I remembered I had some ziptop popsicle bags, so I poured in leftover puree, froze them, tasted one the next day…and wished I hadn’t wasted good popsicle mix on nasty old sorbet.
These fruitsicles are easy to make, VERY portable (unlike sorbet), and overall just a lot easier to deal with because you don’t have the expense and mess of an ice cream maker. All you need is a blender or food processor, funnel, water glass, and popsicle bags.
Buying popsicle bags
I got mine on Amazon.com (they’re called “zipzicle bags”) for about $.20 each, but you can probably find them for less. Search “ice pop bags” or “tube popsicles.” The ziptops really speed things up, but you can also buy straight popsicle pouches with no ziptop for 1-2 cents apiece.
The straight bags will require a knot in the top or a twist-tie, which isn’t as secure or easy. I’ve also seen instructions for using a vacuum sealing unit to finish these off.
CAUTION: Beware of really cheap bags. They’re thinner and tend to leak at corners. They also require more careful handling to avoid bursting them–do NOT overfill–and flop around while you’re trying to fill them.
It’s a straightforward process:
- Label 16-18 popsicle bags with the recipe name and date (if you wait until after you’ve filled them, it’ll be a lot more difficult).
- Thoroughly clean and pick through the fruit; discard any that look rotten, buggy, or moldy. Remember; you’re not cooking the fruit at all, so whatever goes in the blender winds up in your mouth, sterilization-free.
- Dump only the fruit into the blender. Whirl away for at least 3 minutes, until it’s thoroughly pureed. If your blender can’t hold all the fruit, start with half the amount, puree that, and add the rest as the volume decreases.
- Add everything but the sugar, but only half the flavoring liquid (i.e., spices, yogurt if you want creamsicles, and a pinch of salt).
- Whirl the heck out of it for at least five minutes, then open the blender and check the contents for taste and consistency.
- You want a consistency similar to thin pancake batter (or melted ice cream), so add liquid if necessary.
- Taste the mixture after you’ve got the right consistency, and adjust flavorings and sugar. You want a delicious, little bit concentrated flavor, because being frozen will dull it a bit.
- Remove from blender, take out the blender blades if they separate from the container, and clean both immediately (dried-on seeds are a pain to remove).
- Now start filling. Set up your waterglass and funnel, and undo the top of the first popsicle bag. Hold it up with the end down in the glass, and insert the funnel into the bag.
- Pour your fruit mixture into the bag, just to the fill line. DO NOT FILL ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP. Your fruitsicles will expand as they freeze, so if you have too much the bags may burst open.
- Seal the top, rinse off if necessary.
- Put the bags in the freezer, laid out perfectly flat (if they freeze in a bent position, it will be difficult to push fruitsicle out). It can help to lay them all on a cookie sheet and put that in the freezer. Freeze a minimum of four hours; they’re better overnight.
That’s pretty much all there is to it; this isn’t rocket science. I’ve picked up a few tips along the way to make this easier.
- Choose fruit that’s very, very ripe, just this side of about-to-croak. The flavor is usually a bit sweeter and more concentrated, and it’s a good way to use up about-to-croak berries.
WAIT TO ADD SUGAR until you taste. Ninety percent of the time I leave the sugar out.
- The amount of liquid you need to make a good consistency will vary with the fruit and time of year. If it’s too runny, it doesn’t really matter–your popsicles will just be icier–but I tend to start with half the liquid and add more at the tasting stage.
- I happen to love berry seeds in my popsicle; they add crunch and character. If you don’t, push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds.
- When you unzip the bag top it will look as though the sides of the bag are stuck together and you won’t be able to get the puree to run into the bag, but the weight of the puree will do that for you. If you’re worried, you can run a stream of water through the bag to open it, but it’s not really necessary. (You could also blow into the bag to open it…but then I hope you’re the only one eating those fruitsicles.)
- The water glass helps hold the bag upright so you can fill it without help, and it’s a good place to put the funnel while you reach for another bag. Its primary purpose, though, is to contain drips and overspill.
- DEFINITELY use a funnel. You don’t think you’ll need it, if you’re careful…and maybe you won’t. But it’s a much faster and neater job if you insert the funnel into the bag and pour that way. In between pours, you can rest the funnel in the glass.
- If you run out of bags, you can pour the leftover mixture into quart freezer bags, label, and freeze. You’ll either make the world’s biggest fruitsicles, or have stuff you can thaw and use next time. Or make sorbet. 😉
These are some of the combinations I like best; every 8-9 cups of uncut fruit will make somewhere between 16-20 fruitsicles.
- 2 pints of ripe strawberries
- 1/2 pint raspberries
- 1/2 pint gooseberries (red currants work equally well)
- 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (the concentrate is too acid/artificial tasting for this, so if you don’t have orange juice, use a fruit soda or sparkling cider)
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground nutmeg
- Pinch cardamom
- Pinch salt
- Sugar to taste
- 4 pints of ripe strawberries (as sweet as you can find them)
- 1 can Pellegrino Limonato soda (if you can’t find Limonato, try and equal amount of 7UP or Sprite, sparkling water, tonic water, or sparkling cider)
- 3 grates of nutmeg
- Couple grates of lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
- Sugar to taste
Black Raspberry Spice
- 2 pints of raspberries
- 2 pints of blueberries (very ripe, if you can find them)
- 2 cups sparkling cider (or you can use Orangina or any good soda made with real fruit, NOT the syrupy Orange Crush/Nehi kind)
- 3 grates nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cardamom
- Pinch of fresh ground cassia/cinnamon
- Pinch of grated fresh ginger (VERY small pinch–this is powerful stuff)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Sugar to taste
- 1 pint yogurt (NOT Greek yogurt, it’s too thick)
- 3 pints of berries
- 1 can of sparkling beverage (good fruit soda, tonic water (my personal favorite), sparkling cider, etc.
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Sugar to taste
These are (obviously) a lot creamier than the other fruitsicles. They won’t be as hard, and they probably won’t keep as long. Be careful with the sugar; frequently yogurt is oversweetened so it’s easy to make this too sweet.
Personally, I prefer making yoberry fruitsicles with plain lowfat yogurt and adjusting the sweetness in the blender; the puree you’re making is probably better than the fruit jam in the yogurt. I’ve also done this with labne, a middle eastern yogurt-ish product; it’s really good and very rich. You could probably also try this with sour cream or sweet cream, but let’s not go overboard.
- 3 pints of blackberries (if you can find real loganberries, you’ve hit the jackpot)
- 1 pint of blueberries (optional-I only use these if they’re really rich)
- Very good white or blush/rose wine (Pinot Grigio and White Zinfandel are fabulous, because they’re usually a bit sweet, but champagne would be nice)
- 4 grates of nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup sugar (again optional)
- Enough water or additional liquid to loosen up the mixture
Note on the Wineberry fruitsicles: Alcohol can act as an antifreeze and slow down the freezing process. I didn’t notice a problem with this recipe since there’s not much actual alcohol. If you use something stronger (such as vodka) you might have trouble.
You could also make wineberries with a good red wine, but since they’ll be more strongly flavored, do a lot of tasting first. Either way, you’ll end up with a very rich adult fruitsicle.
To eat a fruitsicle, get a pair of scissors, cut the top off the bag, and push the treat up and out of the plastic as you consume it. If it seems to be stuck, run a little cool water over the bottom to loosen.
You can also just open the ziptop, potentially to reuse the bags. Usually, though, the fruitsicle will get caught in the zipperthing, so it’s easier to just cut it.
Anybody else have recipes for these things? My next try will be something with mangoes…