Make Your Own Icy Treats
By Ashley Stinson
It’s a long, hot summer and the best way to enjoy all that sunlight is to find a way to keep yourself cool while you do it. In short, it’s the perfect season for icy, cold snacks. Instead of heading to the freezer aisle of your local grocery store and getting something full of extra sugar and artificial flavors, why not try making your own icy creations this summer? Ice cream, popsicles and shaved ice are all easy and relatively cheap to make at home—and they’re just the thing to keep you chill and smiling as the mercury rises.
A bowl of homemade ice cream is an essential summertime experience. The easiest way to make your own ice cream is to get an ice cream maker. There are several kinds, including sleek modern models that don’t require ice or salt to freeze the ice cream, all available in big box stores and online for about $30-50. If you don’t have the fridge space or budget, you can simulate the effect of the ice cream machine using a simple freeze-and-stir method.
Begin by making whatever ice cream mixture you would like. Pour the liquid mixture in a stainless steel bowl and chill it in a larger container of ice-water before moving it to a Tupperware and placing it in the fridge. After 45 minutes, removed the Tupperware and vigorously whisk the contents, making sure to break apart any sections that have already frozen. Return to the freezer for thirty minutes and then repeat the process, continuing until your ice cream has the texture of, well, ice cream. This method works best if you use a custard-based recipe, since that will reduce the amount of ice crystals present and give you a smoother end product. Give it a try with any flavor you’d like—vanilla bean, chocolate, or strawberry are always good places to start.
Popsicles are another summertime staple. Who doesn’t have cheerful childhood memories of enjoying popsicles by the pool, or at the beach? If you have children of your own now, making popsicles at home is a double whammy: you can make them healthy and nutritious, and your little ones will have a blast helping you make these simple, tasty treats. Popsicle molds are available in various shapes and sizes, but if you don’t have any and aren’t inclined to buy any, you can simply make your popsicles using small cups for the mold.
The method for making popsicles is decidedly simple—all you need is a liquid to pour into your mold, which you then place in the freezer until it fully sets. If you’re simply using a cup and popsicle stick as your mold, you can keep the stick centered by covering the top of the cup with foil, with a slit in the middle for the stick. The mixture that you pour in is entirely up to you. And the options are basically endless! The simplest approach is to use your favorite fruit juice or to puree fresh fruit. For a strawberries-and-cream popsicle, slide fresh strawberries and toss them with a little bit of sugar and then let them sit on the counter until the juice has come out. Then, mix the strawberries and juice together with plain Greek yogurt. Or try a citrus-mint popsicle by taking the zest and juice of several lemons, limes, and oranges and mixing it together with finely diced fresh mint. Your kids will love choosing their favorite fruit and juices to combine with herbs or yogurt to make their very own unique flavors.
Another treat that you’ll find simple to make at home is shaved ice. Unlike popsicles and ice cream, however, it is essential to have a specialized device to make shaved ice. Hand-cranked or electric Hawaiian shaved ice machines, or Japanese kakigori machines that can dispense a single-share of shaved ice at a time, are a fun addition to summer parties. With a price tag between $20-50, buying one won’t break the bank, and if you entertain or have children, the price investment can be worth it for an easy, cold treat you can break out all summer long.
Shaved ice machines of this type typically come with a disk shaped mold in which you can freeze water. Then you remove the block of ice which slots into the top of the machine and then is spun against a blade to shave it. After that, you can add whatever syrups you would like to flavor the ice—or you can make your own syrup by boiling one part water, one part sugar, and whatever fruit you would like to use for flavoring.
Japanese kakigori shaved ice is made slightly differently, and we’d recommend giving it a try. This method will work with any fruit, but we suggest trying a refreshing melon kakigori. Cut a cantaloupe in half and remove the seeds, before cutting the flesh into squares and removing from the peel. Place the flesh of the melon into a food processor and puree until liquid. Pass the puree through a strainer to remove any fibrous bits, and put that pure, melon liquid into the ice mold for your machine, to be frozen and used the same way you would use a normal ice block. Drizzle your melon shaved ice with a little condensed milk and enjoy!