For the second year in a row, work and ballet training have brought my family from Minneapolis to Austin for a few weeks in the middle of their hot summer. We love it here, albeit the average temperature has been hovering around 100° since we arrived. Why these things don’t converge when temps in Minnesota are -10° I don’t understand! Much as the heat drains, we say the tacos (and our ice pops below) make up for times 10 (Hello, Radio Coffee and Vera Cruz Tacos).
My youngest daughter and I dropped everyone off at their places on Monday and set out looking for something to make and seasonal to eat besides tacos. It didn’t take us long to realize that peach season was happening right now in Texas. I asked my 6-year-old what we should do with our peaches and she said we should go swimming or make popsicles. While swimming makes its way into every conversation we have over here, we landed on ice pops first. My Google search took us out of the city to Faraday’s Kitchen Store hunting for ice pop molds. As soon as we walked in we found rockets for my space loving girl!
Licking ice pops or spoonfuls of granita are the perfect cold treats for a hot day. When you are traveling and don’t have extras like ice cream makers and ice pop molds on hand, granita is the way to go. The best part is, they use the very same ingredients with the last step deciding your end result.
Step one: Make simple syrup
While seasonal fruit doesn’t need much in the way of sweetener, once frozen, fruit can have a sour edge that is made more delicious with a touch of naturally sweet simple syrup, especially for granita. The added simple syrup also breaks up the juice or purée with more water content and makes it easier to freeze and eat. Add 1/2 cup real maple syrup to equal parts water and heat until syrup is just dissolved.
Step two: Make fruit juice or puree.
For peach ice pops or granita, follow the recipe below.
When making watermelon or strawberry purée, no need to cook and soften your fruit. Put fresh fruit in the blender with a splash or two of lemon, lime, or orange juice, adding simple syrup as desired. For other flavor combinations, pair fruits like peach and raspberries or orange juice and coconut milk for creamsicles. If you don’t mind a bit more labor and adult flavor, think rosé and watermelon, coffee and naturally sweetened cream or milk, or tequila with lemon/lime granita served with salted rims margarita style. Yum!
Step three: Freeze it
Fill your ice pop molds with fruit mixture. Freeze for about 4 hours. If making granita, pour into shallow baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Continue to step 4 for further granita instructions.
Step four: Rake it
Every 30 minutes remove granita mixture, raking over the surface with a fork to create icy flakes of fruit. Return to freezer, and repeat every 30 minutes for 4-6 hours. If you forget, as I have, you can let it melt down a bit and return to freezer to repeat. You can also break up bigger chunks into smaller pieces and allow them to melt slightly before serving.
Wherever you live or travel, summers can turn up the heat. A little something cold is the always the cure!
Peach Ice Pops
6 Peaches peeled and cut into chunks
3 Tablespoons of water
1 Tablespoon lemon (or lime) juice
1 ½ Tablespoons maple simple syrup, more or less to taste
Put all ingredients into a saucepan on medium heat, let fruit soften and liquids cook down for about 5 minutes. Put all ingredients into a blender and purée. Let cool slightly and fill molds to the top, placing the stick into each mold. Freeze for at least 4 hours.
Makes 4-6 servings.
*For Granita, follow all directions above but instead pour peach purée into a shallow dish and freeze for about 30 minutes. Remove granita mixture, raking with a fork over the surface to create icy flakes of fruit, return to freezer, and repeat every 30 minutes for 4-6 hours.