Recipe: Berry Herb Pops
Twice a month, Berkshire native Alana Chernila, mother of two, and author of the cookbook, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making (Clarkson Potter), contributes a thoughtful and heartfelt essay/recipe created exclusively for Rural Intelligence readers. Her first cookbook has achieved top-seller status, and Chernila has a new one in the works, tentatively titled “Meals from the Homemade Pantry,” due out in 2015. This week, she shares the secret to a perfect popsicle.
And now begins the time when we turn everything into popsicles. The back porch is already stained with drips and the popsicle mold never makes it back into the bottom drawer.
For years, I made terrible popsicles. I’d do that thing where I’d try to pass off something non-dessert-y as dessert, freezing juice into pop molds. We’d all eat our “dessert,” noisily slurping the juice out of the pop until all that was left was a popsicle-shaped ice cube. Everyone was good-natured about it, but I was determined to improve my pop game.
A few years ago, I had the good fortune to work on the photos for a book called People’s Pops. The authors had recently built a pop empire in New York, and their little book shared every secret they had. I ate pops through the whole shoot (90° in July, hot New York apartment) and every flavor was better than the next. It turns out that their secret ingredient is simple syrup, often infused with herbs. Pack a pop with fresh fruit, blend with a little simple syrup, and freeze until solid. Once I gave in, I never made a juice-filled icicle again. And now I have a jar of simple syrup in the fridge at all times during the hot months, as it’s also the secret success of lemonade, iced coffee, and cocktails. Play around with different flavor combinations, and always have a few pops ready to go in the freezer. On the hottest days you can even call them dinner. I won’t tell.
This recipe makes roughly enough to fill a 10-pop mold, but as molds are variable, you might have extra. Freeze in a little container, and shave it off for a granita.
Basic Berry Herb Pops
¾ cup infused simple syrup, or more to taste (recipe follows)
1 to 1¼ pounds berries
optional: ¼ cup heavy cream, yogurt, or buttermilk
1. Combine the simple syrup, fruit, and cream, if using, in a blender. Blend until smooth, pour into pop molds, and freeze for at least 6 hours. Unmolded pops can be stored in freezer bags in the freezer for up to a week.
Infused Simple Syrup
Makes about 1 1/3 cups
1 cup granulated sugar (coarser organic sugar is nice here, too)
1 cup water
handful of mint, basil, lemon balm, tarragon, or a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary
1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat, add the herbs, and cover the pan. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then strain into a jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.