People’s Pops: 3 Tips for Better Ice Pops, Plus a Recipe

I was a fan from the beginning. I lived two blocks from the schoolyard where the first Brooklyn Flea outdoor market assembled in 2008, and my husband and I would stroll through almost every weekend to check out the vendors. As soon as I saw the People’s Pops crew and their chalkboard list of ice pop flavors, I was digging in my purse for dollars. Their combinations of local, in-season fruit with fresh herbs were simple but revolutionary—and immensely refreshing on a hot day in the city.

I wasn’t the only one smitten with People’s Pops’ frosty take on summer fruit. Founders Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell and Joel Horowitz soon grew from that one market stand to a handful of pop-up shops and retail locations, and now supply at least 10 stores with pops. This summer, they released People’s Pops, a cookbook, which means anyone – including me – can recreate cool concoctions like Rhubarb and Elderflower or Apple and Salted Caramel at home.

I’d tried making my own peach yogurt pops for my daughter last summer, but they came out flavorless and too icy, so I was excited to try a few recipes from the ice pop masters. But before we get to that, here are a few of their tips for making great pops:

  • Use the best fruit you can find. Juicy and almost overripe specimens pack the most flavor.
  • Sweeten pops with simple syrup. Even the sweetest fruit will mellow when frozen – a little liquid sugar will distribute smoothly through the puree and enhance the fruit’s natural sweetness. The amounts in the recipes are suggestions. Since the sweetness of fruits can vary, add a little at a time until the mixture tastes sweet enough.
  • Dial down your freezer’s temperature. Freezing the pops fast causes less ice crystals to form resulting in smoother pops.

Corn and Blueberry Pops*
Keeping with the People’s Pops ethos, I went to my farmers’ market to see what looked good and found the first of the summer’s sweet corn. In the book, the authors write that their first corn and blackberry pops sold like gangbusters, so I added a few ears to my bag of peaches and cantaloupe. When I got home and told my two-year-old daughter that I was going to make ice pops, she pulled out an ear and said, “Use this!” So corn pops it is. The blackberries in my area haven’t hit their stride yet, so I substituted plump blueberries. The original recipe calls for cooking the corn, but mine was so sweet and juicy that I skipped that step. What came out of my rocket ship molds was fresh, cool and delicious – a chunky blueberry layer with a hint of tart followed by a sweet-as-cream corn layer – cool! Makes 10 pops.

1/2 pound (2 cups) blueberries
3/4 cup simple syrup (see below)
1 tablespoon (1/2 fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 pounds fresh corn on the cob (about 5 ears), husks and silks removed

Pick out any stems and leaves from the blueberries and puree them in a food processor. Combine the pureed blueberries, 1/4 cup (2 fl oz) simple syrup and lemon juice in a bowl or measuring pitcher with a pouring spout. Divide the mixture equally between your ice pop molds, being careful not to drip down the sides (they should each be about a third full with blueberry mixture). Freeze for 1 to 2 hours, or until solid enough to poke without bursting.

Using a knife, cut the corn kernels from the cobs. Discard the cobs. Transfer the kernels to a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer the pureed corn to a bowl or measuring pitcher with a pouring spout and add simple syrup to taste, using approximately the remaining 1/2 cup (4 fl oz), until the mixture becomes quite sweet. The amount you use will depend on how sweet the corn was to begin with, so use your judgment and remember that the sweetness will dull when the ingredients are frozen. The book suggests straining the corn through a sieve with big holes, but I wanted a pulp-free pop, so I used cheesecloth.

Pour the corn mixture on top of the frozen blackberry layer in your ice pop molds, leaving a bit of room at the top for the mixture to expand. Insert sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. Unmold and transfer to plastic bags for storage or serve at once.

Simple Syrup
2/3 cup (5 oz) organic cane sugar
2/3 cup (5 fl oz) water

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is transparent. Turn off the heat and let cool. Add any spices before the mixture starts to simmer; add any herbs only after you’ve turned off the heat. Store plain and infused syrups in sealed containers in the fridge.

makes 1 cup (8 fl oz)

*Adapted with permission from Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.


Photo Credit: Iryna Melnyk

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