Pickles & popsicles

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Summertime just screams for cool, refreshing treats. Frozen lemon/mint treats and pickles with a bite are a great way to beat the heat.

Summer is canning/freezing season, when the bounty of the season is stored away for the long, winter months. Or at least that’s how it was in the old days. Nowadays, it’s a great way to make special treats that last a while in the refrigerator–maybe not as long as a whole winter, but at least for the next few months.

I’ve been buying some frozen pop molds at the dollar store so I could make treats for the kids. I’m thinking frozen pudding treats might work best for their little palates.

In the meantime I wanted to take advantage of the lemons becoming ripe on my tree out back, so I decided to make some tangy frozen pops. A little mint goes a long way. I made a fresh lemonade mixture, but kept the taste a little concentrated because frozen pops lose the punch after the first few licks otherwise.

Lemon/mint frozen pops

Juice of 5 lemons

1 quart water

1/2 cup granulated sugar

springs of mint to taste (one per frozen pop works the best IMO)

Juice 5 lemons, strain and set aside. Heat water and sugar until sugar is completely melted. Add lemon juice. Put 1 spring mint in each pop mold. Pour lemon mixture on top. Place frozen pop sticks in each (the come with the molds) and freeze overnight. To thaw, dip each mold in warm water to loosen. If you have trouble getting them out with the sticks, use a small paring knife and plunge it in the pop. Pull it out and replace with the stick.

Makes one quart liquid, or 16 one-half cup frozen pops

This recipe was the idea of my husband. He wanted dill pickles with a bit of heat. These came out great.

Dill pickles with a bite

6 pickle-sized cucumbers quartered lengthwise into spears

4 garlic cloves peeled

2-3 sliced fresh peppers (I used Hungarian for this batch)

3 cups water

2 cups white vinegar

2 tablespoons salt

dill springs to taste (about 1/2 cup or so)

Pickling spices (I made my own: 1 tsp. whole mustard seeds, 1 tsp. whole coriander seeds, 2 whole dried allspice berries, 2 whole cloves, 4 bay leaves, sprinkle of celery seed, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes).

Heat water, vinegar and salt until salt is dissolved into the water–just short of boiling. Add pickling spices. Place dill springs, garlic cloves, pepper slices and cucumber slices in a clean, washed canning jar. Pour warm liquid over pickles, filling the jar. Let cool and place in refrigerator for about two days before starting to eat.

Makes 4 pint-sized Mason-type jars.

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