Follow this step-by-step tutorial on how to make delicious, homemade strawberry basil popsicles!
Homemade Strawberry Basil Popsicles
A few years ago, a recipe for strawberry panna cotta caught my eye. Everything about it was pretty standard… except that the strawberry sauce included balsamic vinegar instead of the normal sugar that is normally used for macerating strawberries. I was intrigued by the claim that balsamic vinegar would make the strawberries taste even sweeter, so I decided to give it a try.
I can’t remember how the panna cotta turned out (I’m assuming not that well since I wasn't very good at cooking back then!), but I do remember how enamored I became with the combination of balsamic vinegar and strawberries. The vinegar brings a richness of flavor that makes the normal combination of strawberry and sugar taste flat. To this day, I still prefer to add a dash of balsamic vinegar to strawberries when serving them as a side to ice cream or with shortcake.
Recently, I’ve added to this winning combination by adding basil to the strawberries as well. The sweet, leafy herb lends a fresh, floral kick to the juicy tang of strawberries – especially when included in a salad. Since I recently acquired a popsicle mold, I decided to try making popsicles that were a little more interesting than the run-of-the-mill strawberry…and I think this recipe knocks it out of the park!
Below are the ingredients you’ll need to make these scrumptious popsicles:
- 2 cups fresh strawberries
- 2 Tbsp. white sugar
- 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
- 4 medium-sized basil leaves
- 1 c. water
I have popsicle molds, so that’s what I’ve included in the pictures! If you don’t happen to own them, you can easily substitute the molds with paper cups, popsicle sticks and aluminum foil. I’ll detail how to do so later in the recipe.
You’ll also need:
- sharp kitchen knife
Pretty standard, for the most part! Let’s get started…
Trim the strawberry tops with a sharp knife. Discard the stems.
Place the strawberry, flat side down, onto the cutting board. Slice the strawberry into 4-5 slices. Repeat the process for all of your strawberries. This will make the strawberries easier to mash later!
Place the strawberries in a bowl, then add the 1 tsp. of balsamic vinegar. (I took pictures of the halved recipe, hence the ½ teaspoon visible in the picture instead of the 1 tsp. the recipe calls for. Sorry for the confusion!)
Add 2 Tbsp. of sugar into the strawberry bowl. (Again, sorry for the pictured measuring spoon being different from the recipe!)
Stir to mix the vinegar and sugar evenly, until the sugar dissolves. The strawberry slices will get glossy and a little dark because of the balsamic vinegar – looks appetizing already, doesn’t it? Now we’ll let the strawberries sit in the sugar and vinegar to macerate while we cut up the basil!
We’ll need the basil minced so that it’s evenly distributed through the popsicle. The easiest way to do that is to start with a chiffonade, which is a culinary term for ‘ribbons’; we’ll be making ribbons of the basil. First, roll the basil leaf lengthwise so it forms a long cylinder.
Next, start cutting the basil along its length, perpendicular to the roll. It doesn’t need to be even since we’ll be mincing it afterward, but try to make small cuts – about 1-2 mm in width.
Once you’ve done this with one leaf, you can continue to do the other three leaves. To make it even faster, I would roll the rest of the leaves together and cut them all at once. You’ll be left with slices that look like ribbons – a chiffonade of the basil!
Place your knife perpendicular to the direction of the ribbon length and start mincing–rock your knife hand on the cutting board from one side to the other while holding the top of the blade with your other hand to steady the rocking motion. You should end up with tiny pieces of basil that look like confetti.
Add the minced basil to your strawberry mixture. The easiest way to do so is to scoop the basil with your knife – but be careful with the sharp edge when transferring the basil! Stir thoroughly to mix the basil in with the other ingredients. We want to make sure those fragrant leaves are infused into every bite.
Start mashing the berries gently with a fork. Because the strawberry slices are macerated, they should be much softer and easier to mash against the walls of the bowl. It took me around 5 minutes to get the consistency I was looking for – mostly liquid with some smaller chunks of strawberry. If you prefer even smaller chunks or none at all, you can definitely use a blender. I preferred the hand-mashing method because I wanted bigger pieces in the popsicle.
Once you get the consistency you prefer, add water and stir well to mix. At this point, I transferred the mixture to a measuring cup to make it easier to pour into the popsicle molds.
Pour the strawberry mixture into your popsicle molds (or cups, if you’re not using molds). Again, this recipe makes 4 popsicles and when I initially took these pictures, I only made two popsicles–I hope this discrepancy doesn’t mix anyone up! You can still see how chunky the mix is as I pour it into the molds; I love frozen pieces of strawberry in my popsicles…
Make sure to give the mixture a good stir before you pour it into each mold/cup so that the basil and strawberries are evenly distributed. Also, make sure that you don’t fill the popsicle molds to the top! When the liquid freezes, it will expand–and if you fill the mold to the top, you’ll effectively freeze the cover to the mold and make it very difficult to take the cover off. Cover your popsicle molds with the cover/stick and freeze for 6 hours or preferably overnight.
If you’re using cups and popsicle sticks, place the cups in the freezer then place a sheet of aluminum foil over the cups. Poke holes into the aluminum foil above each popsicle and stick your popsicle sticks into the holes. The foil will hold the popsicle sticks in place while the liquid freezes.
Take your popsicles out of the freezer when you’re ready to enjoy them. If you’re using a mold, run the popsicle mold under cold water for a few moments to dislodge the popsicle; chances are, it’s stuck to the mold and needs to melt just a tiny amount to un-stick.
If you’re using cups and popsicle sticks, simply remove the aluminum foil when you’re ready to eat and remove the popsicle from the cup.
I think you’ll be surprised at how juicy these popsicles are, and how much you’ll enjoy the basil thrown into the mix. It sounds like too many crazy ingredients at once, but everything comes together in such a harmonious way! These popsicles are an indulgent, sophisticated summer treat that adults will love and kids will appreciate and are definitely a must-try for anyone who loves strawberries. Enjoy!
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