With weeks of cool gray weather it is hard to believe it is officially summer. But I am hearing rumours of hot weather on the other side of Canada, so somewhere popsicles will be appreciated. This is essentially a recipe posted several years ago but I wanted to focus on the Sweet Cicely added to this version.
Sweet Cicely is an herb that contains an essential oil called Anethole. Both fennel and star anise contain Anethole and it is where all three get there sweet liquorice like flavour. Anethole also soothes the digestive tract and reduces inflammation. However it is the taste that makes it an excellent substitution for anyone wanting to reduce their sugar intake or that of their children.
This is not an herb you can pick up in the produce section but a plant in the corner of the garden is something to consider. It is a hardy plant, also known as “Grandma’s Candy” as kids playing in the garden could nibble on it all summer long. The leaves can be easily included in current, gooseberry and rhubarb recipes to sweeten sour fruits.
You will need:
1 cup yoghurt ( I used homemade Greek style )
1/2 cup stewed rhubarb, sweetened with….
1/3 cup fresh Sweet Cicely in cheese cloth
1/2 cup washed, chopped, fresh local strawberries
agave or honey ( optional )
As you prepare to make these popsicles by washing your hands and getting out an apron, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Find gratitude for the availability of supplies in your home, the skills and knowledge to create a healthy offering for the people you care about and the bounty of this new year’s crop. Invite in the compassionate spirits and begin.
Add the herbs to the rhubarb in a small pot and simmer until the rhubarb is soft and falling apart.
Allow the fruit to cool the lid on and the herb bag in the middle to extract maximum flavour.
(It will also shorten the cooling time in the freezer if the mixture goes in cold.)
Depending on your machine it may be necessary to clean off the insides once ot twice to ensure everything is well mixed.
Taste your mixture. Ripe local strawberries will be sweeter than earlier ones that have travelled. Sour can be refreshing on hot days so see what your mixture tastes like before making any adjustments. It may also take a time or two of using Sweet Cicely before knowing how much is right for your personal taste. A teaspoon of agave or honey is an optional addition depending on the intention, as are a few extra sweet strawberries.
Transfer the mixture to the popsicle moulds. Fill to the top, add the handles and place in the freezer.
I don’t really care for the tops to my moulds so I place the moulds in the freezer without their tops. Thirty minutes later, the mixture is solid enough to add regular popsicle sticks that will stand upright.
A little hot water will release the popsicles from their moulds and a few minutes on the counter will soften the treat before serving.
As the berry season arrives, there will be plenty of other options available for substitutions, that can go right through to fall. Freeze some fruit and the season will last even longer.
This batch was made for a “Playing with Herbs” class so tasting size popsicles were needed. I used dixie cups and then made a few regular ones for this post. Overheard in class was a lovely comment, “It tastes like real food!“.
Note: If you make popsicles regularly, measure the volume of your moulds and adjust the quantities as needed. You want to end up with the right volume for your personal moulds. Small paper cups or recycled individual yoghurt containers are another option. Don’t let lack of popsicles moulds stop you from dipping your toe in the summer treat making water.
Strawberry/Rhubard Popsicles with Sweet Cicely from My Kitchen Wand