Is there a more quintessential summer experience than eating a popsicle in the sun, with sweet fruit juices dribbling down your chin?
Farmers tailgate markets offer a wealth of popsicle ingredients, including some options for thinking outside the tried and true mold.
Just about any summer fruit will make a great frozen treat, either alone or in combination. We’re thinking about peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, blueberries, blackberries, pears, and plums, all of which you’ll find in abundance at markets right now. You can simply puree your fruit and pour it into a popsicle mold to freeze—or add a bit of sweetener (local honey is great!) and lemon or lime juice to balance out the flavor.
Straining your puree through a fine mesh sieve gives you a smoother pop. Try leaving some whole chunks or slices of fruit along with the juice/puree, or create colorful layers by freezing different flavors incrementally. Summer herbs like mint, basil, or lemon verbena make great add-ins. Using a base of yogurt or coconut milk with fruit swirled in will give you a creamier result. Soaking chia seeds in milk or fruit puree lends a pudding-like texture and packs in some protein.
Ready to go beyond your basic fruit pop? Try a sweet corn recipe. Shuck two ears, removing all the strings, and cut off the kernels. Break the cobs into several pieces and add them, along with the kernels, to a saucepan with 1 cup of milk and ¼ cup sugar. Simmer until the corn is tender, then let steep for another 30 minutes or so. Remove the cobs and puree the kernels and the milk (strain for a smoother consistency if desired). Stir in ½ cup of half and half, ¼ teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Chill completely before pouring into molds and freezing for several hours or overnight.
Want something a bit more savory? Puree a few ripe tomatoes with a tablespoon of olive oil and a ½ teaspoon of salt. Freeze with a few leaves of basil in each pop. (Add a tablespoon of tomato paste if you want just a hint of sweetness.) Serve these as a frozen salad side dish at backyard gatherings.
Cucumber and chilies are another refreshing option, especially with lime juice and cilantro, taking a cue from Mexican paletas. Dried chilies, if you’ve preserved last season’s harvest, also play well with chocolate in a fudge pop.
Just want a frozen treat right now? Brew Naturals (Asheville City Market, East Asheville Tailgate Market) often has elderberry-lemonade popsicles at market. Shanti Elixirs(Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, Weaverville Tailgate Market) also blends up creative flavors of jun-based slushies.
At markets now you’ll also find eggplant, peppers, summer squash, winter squash, beans, okra, potatoes, fennel, carrots, beets, garlic, onions, lettuce, salad mix, chard, bok choy, cabbage, sprouts, microgreens, mushrooms, eggs, cheese, meat, seafood, bread, fermented products, baked goods, and so much more.
Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.