About homemade popsicles

If you have ever tried to make popsicles yourself, you will have probably felt the disappointment of having crappy blocks of ice instead of yummy ice pops.  This unsavory phenomenon is because your wimpy -20°C freezer can’t congeal the water fast enough, causing chunky ice crystals. The addition of sugar and juice to water makes it freeze slower. This will result in the sugary liquid separating from the ice when you eat it. Eventually you will just be sucking on an ice cube.

Another reason that your homebrew popsicles will most likely suck, is that you don’t have access to the awesome chemicals they chuck into the factory made ones. Among these chemicals, the stabilizers are the most important for the texture. They allow the sugar and flavoring to blend in perfectly with the ice crystals and prevent the popsicle from dripping all over your hand while eating it.

No reason to fret however. I shall present a few pointers to help you achieve a tastier popsicle.

1)      Low temperatures

Ideally you should flash freeze your popsicles in temperatures of maximum -40°C. One way you could achieve this is by dipping your popsicle molds in liquid nitrogen, cooling them to a whopping -196°C. However, if you are not a cattle brander, dermatologist, molecular chef, or if you don’t work in a lab, you won’t have easy access to this nifty liquid.

A poor man’s alternative to liquid nitrogen is to mix dry ice with denatured ethanol. Dipping your pops in this concoction will get you as low as -80°C.

An even easier way to get low temperatures is to make a highly saturated brine by dissolving as much kitchen salt in water as you can. This is a traditional household trick to make icecream and would get you to around -21°C. In industrial production of popsicles similar brine tanks are used in which the molds are submerged. Of course you can always by one of the many available commercial popsicle molds. The best ones have a liquid refrigerant  inside to reach temperatures as low as your home freezer can take it.

2)      Stirring

When you just leave your popsicle mixture standing in the freezer, the water will freeze faster than the dissolved sugars. By stirring the freezing liquid, you will constantly mix the water and the dissolved stuff, causing  them to freeze more harmoniously. Of course it would be a drag to stir it yourself, so just put your popsicle mix in an icecream maker before freezing it.

3)      Your very own stabilizers

As mentioned before, stabilizers help to mix the flavors into the popsicle and prevent you from having to eat sludge on a stick. Some easy to find household items can be used as stabilizers in your homebrew ice pops. You can start by using syrup instead of sugar to sweeten your mixture. Syrups (like high fructose corn syrup) will provide cohesion to your mix, improving the viscosity and texture of your pops.

You can also add some gelatin or the vegetarian alternatives, agar and carrageenan (extracted from seaweeds).  In the right concentrations, these substances will provide your popsicle batter with a nice gooey consistency. Add too much however and you get jello shots.

Even though I never bother to make them myself, I hope these pointers will help, should you ever intend to make your own popsicles.

Introduction

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Welcome to Popsicaholic, a blog about one of my favorite pastimes, eating popsicles.

Some madmen only venture into the exhilarating world of popsicles on hot summery days. I on the other hand, like most connoisseurs, enjoy them all year round. Ever since I was a kid I have been devoutly eating popsicles all week, every week, courageously defying sugar dips and diabetes.

With this blog I intend to share the joy of eating popsicles with a larger audience. I will be featuring interesting popsicle facts as well as writing reviews about the different kinds of popsicles that I encounter.

Since their invention in 1905, popsicles have come a long way. The 11 year old Californian kid, Frank Epperson, wasn’t intent on creating awesomeness when he was mixing soda powder in water. When he left it overnight however, the night’s freezing temperatures had transformed it into a prototype of the icy treat we know today as popsicle. So like all of the best things in the world, including beer, penicillin, microwave ovens, LSD and the slinky, the popsicle is a product of serendipity.

The slinky

The famous slinky

Nowadays you can find popsicles in all shapes and sizes and they will sell them anywhere. Popsicles have become so popular that they have been featured in Katy Perry’s hit song “California gurls”. In Guy Ritchie’s 1998 film “Lock stock and two smoking barrels”, the character Rory Breaker teaches us that guys who eat popsicles are not to be messed with.

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Rory Breaker eating a popsicle

I hope you will enjoy reading my blog

Cheers,

A popsicaholic