July 17, 2012

Lemon popsicles

We can't seem to avoid talking (alright, complaining) about the weather - it's a natural conversation starter.  Talking about how hot it is in the summer is stating the obvious but I can't help myself sometimes.  I'm not complaining - honest.  It has been hot and dry this season, giving us plenty of opportunity to be outside, have barbecues, and take road trips.  It's also meant evenings seeking refuge inside the air-conditioned house having a picnic on the living room floor while watching a movie because it's just so hot outside.  We're enjoying both sides of the spectrum.
And summer brings the full enjoyment of ice cream treats!  When I think summer, I automatically think ice cream but I also think of other frozen treats and lighter options such as Italian ice, sorbet, or granita.  And I gravitate towards lemon because what's more refreshing than lemon.  It's one of my favorite ingredients; I love to cook with it, use its juice and zest in baking, and squeeze some into my drinks.

I bought popsicle molds for the first time a few weeks ago to start my foray into popsicle making.  My son loves popsicles - it's just one of those treats kids adore because they have great taste.  I knew the first type of popsicle I wanted to make was lemon.  As the weather warmed up, the little guy started asking me to buy him some because his favorites are lemon and lime but I hadn't been able to get the lemon ones for some reason.  That's not a problem now because after making my own, I don't know if I'll want to buy them anymore.
Making your own homemade lemon popsicles only requires fresh lemons, water, and sugar.  With just a little work and some wait time, you'll bite into icy mouthfuls of what's like freshly made, lightly sweetened lemonade.  It is so refreshing and rewarding during these hot summer days.

Last summer, I made frozen lemonade and granita.  It was refreshing, delicious, and my little one loved it.  But making granita requires a bit of work - you need to freeze it, check on it periodically, and scrap/rake the ice several times until it turns into a fluffy, icy consistency.  There's a time and place for everything and for a simple, fun alternative, make popsicles and skip that work!

In fact, I used the lemon granita recipe in The Perfect Scoop (I'm having so much fun with this book this summer!) to make these popsicles.  I think David Lebovitz (the book's author) must've read my mind when he wrote in the footnotes that many of his granita recipes make great popsicles.  It was just what I was hoping for!  If you have an ice cream machine, this recipe can also be used to make lemon sorbet.  Very versatile!

Start by making a simple sugar syrup, combining 1/4 cup of water with 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan.  These popsicles are distinctly lemon; I wouldn't skimp on that half cup of sugar.  It's just right for me but you can add an extra tablespoon or so if you think you'd prefer a sweeter version.  Zest a lemon right over the top and heat the mixture, stirring, until the sugar is fully dissolved.  Take it off the heat and stir in another cup of water before chilling the mixture in the fridge until cool.
We need half a cup of fresh lemon juice, which takes 3-4 lemons (organic/unsprayed, if possible).  Stir the lemon juice into the chilled sugar syrup.  If you don't want the zest for whatever reason, you could strain the sugar syrup over the lemon juice and stir it together.
This recipe makes enough to fill 5 popsicle molds I used.  Fill them, leaving about half an inch of space at the top to allow expansion.
Freeze until set.  To unmold, dip the popsicles in some warm water for roughly 10-20 seconds to remove.  It's a good idea to put the unmolded popsicles back in the freezer so they set up again.  That way, they don't get all melty on you immediately.  You can store them in individual sandwich bags or wrap them each in plastic wrap and place in a large freezer bag. 
Grab one when someone in the house needs a refreshing treat.  They really hit the spot on a hot day!


Lemon Popsicles
Adapted from the Lemon Granita recipe in The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

- About 2 cups (for 5 popsicles in my case) -

1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon, preferably unsprayed
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (preferably, organic)

Start by making a sugar syrup.  Place 1/4 cup of water and the sugar in a small saucepan.  Zest the lemon directly into the pan.  Heat the mixture, stirring frequently, until sugar is fully dissolved.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining cup of water.  Chill the syrup in the refrigerator.

Stir lemon juice into the chilled syrup.  If you do not want the zest in your popsicles, you could strain the syrup into the lemon juice before stirring it together. 

For ease of pouring, transfer the mixture to a measuring cup or other cup with a spout.  Fill the popsicle molds, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top so the mixture has room to expand.  Freeze until set.

To unmold, place popsicles in warm water for 10-20 seconds before removing from the mold.  It's best to place unmolded popsicles back in the freezer to firm back up (so it doesn't melt as quickly).  Store unmolded popsicles in individual freezer bags or wrapped in plastic wrap and placed together in a large freezer bag. 


  1. Thanks for the recipe! I just tried it with orange and buttermilk instead and the popsicles were great! Will try it again with lemon/lime soon. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Celine. Your versions sound awesome! Lemon/lime is bound to be good, too. Have a great day!



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