No ice-cream machine? No problem... When a friend recently found himself in possession of a surplus of peaches, he asked if I had any suggestions for a no ice-cream maker method of getting those beauties into the freezer. I knew ice-cream and sorbet were not possible. Ice-cream, sorbet, and their lovechild, sherbet, are all about texture... Smooth, soft, scoopable texture. And without a machine, you're just not going to get there. At the time, I recommended granitas, which are known for their icy texture, but frozen pops are an even easier way to achieve a frozen treat.

I spend so much time in pursuit of the perfect home scoop. Without commercial machines and stabilizers, home batches often yield icy, rock hard results. More fat, more sugar, corn syrup and honey do wonders to bring you a lovely scoop. But what if you want something fat-free, low-sugar, or even sugar-free? Well, that's a difficult task without additives and a expensive machine. The solution? Frozen pops! Not only are they pre-portioned and easy to grab, they don't demand a scoopable finish. In fact, you want them to freeze solid. Just mix-up up any combination of fruit, sweetener, and dairy, fill up your molds, and freeze!

Leave about a 1/4" at top to allow for expansion.

Leave about a 1/4" at top to allow for expansion.

tips and tools

  • How much pop mix to prepare? When mixing up a concoction for pops, keep in mind how much liquid your molds actually hold. My molds hold about 1/4 cup of mixture per pop or 2 1/2 cups overall. Most of my ice-cream and sorbet recipes yield about 5 cups. So, when making pops, I mix up a 1/2 batch. 
  • Leftover mix? If you do have any mixture leftover, you can always refrigerate it and freeze after your first batch of pops is done.
  • No pop molds? If you don't want to keep molds on-hand, try 3 oz Dixie cups with wood sticks. To unmold, just tear off the cup.
  • Substituting sugar for corn syrup: Because of its superior scoop enhancing qualities, I use a lot of corn syrup in my ice-cream recipes instead of sugar. While corn syrup will still produce a more nicely textured pop, it's not necessary. If you're subbing table sugar for corn syrup, keep in mind that corn syrup is actually less sweet than sugar. There are 80 grams of sugar in a cup of corn syrup versus 198 grams of sugar in a cup (198 grams/7 oz) of table sugar. So, don't do a cup for cup swap or you'll end up with an inedible mess. Instead, use about 1/3 to a 1/2 cup of sugar for every 1 cup of corn syrup. Start with a 1/3 cup of sugar and add more to taste, if needed.
  • Adding sweetener to taste: No matter what type of sweetener you use, corn syrup, sucrose, honey, sucralose, etc, keep in mind that your concoction will taste sweeter coming out of the freezer than it did going in. So, when adding sweetener, err on the side of a little sweeter than you'd normally like.
  • Don't churn: Even if you have an ice-cream maker, do not churn your pop mix before molding. Doing so will make the pops too soft to mold.
  • Molding: Leave about 1/4" at the top of your mold to allow for expansion.
  • How Long? It will take about 4 hours for your pops to freeze solid, but it really depends on the size of your molds. Just make sure they are completely frozen before you attempt to unmold, or you could end up pulling out your stick.
  • Unmolding pops: Run hot water until it's hot. Run hot water over molded pops (stick side down) until you can easily wiggle out the pop by the stick.
  • Store: Keep pops in a freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer.