Our one and only goal when developing this recipe was to create the ultimate strawberry popsicle: frozen fruit pops exploding with the bright and fresh taste of ripe summer strawberries, bolstered by an underlying sweetness and concentrated flavor that borders on being jammy. We tested every major method to get there, from macerating the berries to cooking them on the stovetop to roasting them in the oven, and the one we settled on not only delivers the most intense strawberry flavor, but it's also one of the easiest possible.
The inspiration for the berry base of these popsicles came from Max Falkowitz's superb recipe for strawberry sorbet, which relies on a simple ratio of berries to sugar and lemon juice: for every 1 cup of fresh strawberry purée, we add 1/4 cup sugar along with small amounts of lemon juice and salt.
Other popular methods we tried were more labor-intensive and far less successful. Macerating fresh strawberries by mixing them with sugar and letting them sit to soften and draw out liquid led to unremarkable fruit pops with a dull flavor; cooking the berries on the stovetop resulted in frozen pops with an unappealing cooked flavor; and roasting them in the oven yielded the iciest pops of the bunch. We even tried some of these methods in combination (like macerating and then cooking) with even worse results.
But just puréeing fresh strawberries isn't enough to produce the "ultimate" strawberry popsicle. To get there we needed a couple more tricks. The big one is the addition of strawberry jam: It adds a soft, lush texture to the mix along with a deeper, sweeter fruit flavor to underpin all that bright raw-strawberry freshness. Feel free to use any strawberry jam, with or without seeds, store-bought or homemade; it’ll taste great with whatever jam you choose. One could make their own cooked-berry component, but we like store-bought jam for the effort-to-reward ratio: Just open the jar and scoop some out.
To amp up the flavor even more, we borrowed a trick from Stella and mixed in freeze-dried strawberry powder, which, while an optional ingredient, brightens and intensifies the concentrated strawberry flavor even more. Altogether, this triple whammy of fresh strawberry purée, strawberry jam, and freeze-dried strawberry powder (if you decide to use it), yields an effortless popsicle that has layers of flavor and lets the strawberries truly shine.
For those wondering, this recipe works with fresh or frozen strawberries. Fresh strawberries are the clear winner, but frozen will still turn out very tasty pops.
Why It Works
- Puréeing fresh strawberries yields the most flavorful popsicles.
- Optional freeze-dried strawberries boost the fruity flavor.
- Adding strawberry jam accentuates the intense sweetness of the fruit and improves the popsicle texture.
- Yield:Makes six 3-ounce popsicles (see note)
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:10 minutes plus 8 hours freezing time
- 15 ounces (425g) washed, hulled strawberries, halved (about 4 cups; see note)
- 3 ounces granulated sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons; 85g)
- 1/4 ounce (1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons; 5g) freeze-dried strawberry powder, optional (see note)
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice from one lemon (3g)
- 1/8 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume
- 3 ounces strawberry jam (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons; 85g)
In a blender, combine strawberries, sugar, freeze-dried strawberry powder (if using), lemon juice, and salt, and process until very smooth, about 30 seconds.
Pour purée into a medium bowl, add jam, and whisk until thoroughly combined.
Divide evenly between six 3-fluid-ounce popsicle molds and freeze until solid, at least 8 hours (to make filling the molds easier, you can transfer the puréed strawberry base back to the blender jar or to a measuring cup or another vessel with a spout first). To unmold, follow your popsicle mold's instructions.