Are frozen whole milk "ice milk pops" a thing?
August 9, 2019 7:37 PM   Subscribe

I expect I'm going to be disappointed with the answers, but here goes. In my ideal world, there would be creamy milk bars that are the equivalent of frozen whole milk, no sugar added. Does this exist? Could I make it?

I'm trying to eat less sugar, and I'm really into dairy lately, and it's hot as blazes, so I'm looking to replace my nightly ice cream treat.

I know that frozen yogurt and low-fat ice cream exist, but those seem like sugar bombs. I'm seeing some sugar-free Breyers but reading that it's sweetened with sugar alcohols -- what are those even? That doesn't sound good (especially because I don't drink alcohol).

What's about just, milk? Instead of drinking a big glass of whole milk, I'd like to slowly eat a nice milk bar. (Maybe one that was dipped in chocolate!) My backup plan is to whip whipping cream and eat it with some fruit, to get the lower-sugar thing I'm going for, but I'd prefer something a little less greasy / heavy.

Anyone have good news for me?

If not, how hard would this be to make (with or without the chocolate)?
posted by slidell to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I would mix the milk with some plain yogurt before freezing. Heck, get a popsicle tray and try a few different ratios at once to see what you prefer.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:46 PM on August 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Since you mention fruit, you might try the vegan banana ice cream recipe going around. It calls for 1/4 cup non-dairy milk, but you could use dairy since you're into it. It is really easy.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 7:53 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Could you just make some ice cream and leave out the sugar? Maybe add some berrys for a little sweetness?
posted by Marky at 7:55 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Don't know if that's a thing but it won't be ice cream. Ice cream is made by continually stirring the cream as it freezes in order to develop the proper texture and reduce the ice crystals. You can buy the equipment to make your own and thus make ice cream without the added sugar. There are other methods available, too, including the science class nitrogen ice cream method.

In short - find a recipe for homemade ice cream, reduce/eliminate the added sugar, make a batch, then divide into portions, and use a popsicle mold to form the pops.
posted by acidnova at 7:55 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

You could try making a stirred custard on the stove and then freezing it, cutting back the sugar to taste. I've made a very tasty homemade frozen custard that way.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 7:57 PM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

You definitely can do what you want, though 2% milk is going to freeze very hard and may turn very ice-crystal-y like cheap ice cream does. It's the fat that makes it supple. I would also work from a yogurt standpoint, even if it's nonfat yogurt. Use plain if you don't want sugar or sweeteners.

Sugar alcohols are chemically an alcohol but not in the sense of an intoxicant; they are artificial sweeteners. The upside of alcohol (chemically, but including the liquor kind) is that it doesn't freeze, thus keeping your frozen treat frozen more like ice cream than like an ice cube. (Use too much and you get slush, like slushee/icee/frozen margarita.)

There's a ton of recipes out there, and there's ways to go low on sugar and still get something slightly softer than ice cubes. Here's an example, and you could probably just use the preserves and skip most or all of the sugar.

Bonus, because I already had this open in another tab: Zombie popsicle molds.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:00 PM on August 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

If you’re ok with eating fruit, just freeze a banana then put it through the blender. You will get legit banana ice cream. On phone so no link, but google if you don’t believe me :). Then i’d try putting that “frozen banana cream” in a popsicle tray for refreezing and dip the result in chocolate.
posted by cgg at 8:07 PM on August 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

As suggested above, literal frozen yogurt (not the soft-serve type commercial kind, just ordinary yogurt poured into icecube trays and frozen) is delicious. Choose plain for low sugar or play with flavors (coffee yogurt...mmm...), top with chocolate, eat with fresh fruit, put in your glass of milk as ice cubes, mm.
posted by huimangm at 8:16 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

The reason you can bite into a popsicle but not an ice cube is because sugar does a lot of work in giving frozen desserts their texture—because sugar syrup freezes at a lower temperature than water, you get a sweet cold syrup contained by a mesh of tiny ice crystals.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:23 PM on August 9, 2019 [15 favorites]

It's the fat that makes it supple.

That helps, but sugar is also a part of it, traditionally. I have made unsweteened whole-milk frozen yogurt and it has frozen like a rock. Commercial sugar-free ice creams are, I'm pretty sure, going to have other additives to make that work. The good thing is, a lot of those additives are in fact totally available over the internet to home cooks. I haven't done it, but I think you're going to want to look at something like xanthan gum. It might take some experimenting, but honestly even ice cream that freezes wrong can usually be thawed into something you can make into something else, it's not that much waste.
posted by Sequence at 8:27 PM on August 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

I've had that sugar-free Breyers - it's actually fairly decent, especially if you haven't had sugar in a while. And sugar alcohols aren't the intoxicating kind.
posted by 41swans at 8:37 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

have you tried Kulfi ? here's a recipe that does call for sugar, but you could probably cut it down.

you can also look for recipes for Vietnamese Chè. It is basically tapioca, coconut milk, and some sort of sweet fruit (I usually use really ripe bananas). If you freeze it slightly it has a very similar texture to custard.

good luck!
posted by alathia at 8:42 PM on August 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Something like a semifreddo (or here's another good recipe) might be easier to DIY and therefore adapt to be lower-sugar than ice cream.

In general, if you want to drop the sugar content, you're going to want to replace it with another freezing inhibitor such as fat, alcohol (it doesn't take much, if you're comfortable with eating very small amounts), or xanthan gum (which has a slightly intimidating name but it's totally available to home cooks.)
posted by mosst at 9:26 PM on August 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Since you asked about popsicles, a half banana well frozen on a popsicle stick is delicious with (to me) a very pleasing texture. Banana ice cream as described above is also delicious and you can mix in nuts and spices (eg cinnamon, cardamom, hot pepper) to make things more interesting. The only thing in my experience is that the texture can be fiddly (it can freeze too hard if given time) so you want to eat it shortly after preparation. I've also seen recipes using banana, avocado, and cocoa powder. If you're set on adding dairy, you could try cream or yogurt instead of the avocado; either way it would reduce the density of the banana sugars.
posted by trig at 11:19 PM on August 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

It sounds to me like you are describing Mexican paletas from my family's home state of Michoacan.

They are indeed fruit and milk and cream frozen. And they are the most delicious thing.
posted by vacapinta at 11:58 PM on August 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

re: sugar alcohols - they are neither sugar nor alcohol. They're called that because they are sweet like sugar, and they have a hydroxyl group attached to them (which, in chemistry nomenclature, is called an "alcohol group").

It's a poorly named family of molecules, some of which are pretty great at providing non-caloric, organic and safe sweet flavors. Vegetable Glycerin, a "sugar alcohol" comes from plants.

Don't be misled or afraid of them cause they are awkwardly named :)
posted by weed donkey at 1:13 AM on August 10, 2019 [8 favorites]

At school, our canteen used to make popsicles out of chocolate milk, so I don't see why it wouldn't work with plain milk. It was literally just chocolate milk poured into popsicle molds. As Lyn Never mentioned, the texture was more icy than ice cream, but I liked them well enough as a kid.
posted by Kris10_b at 3:51 AM on August 10, 2019

Make whipped cream with a dash of vanilla or fruit purée. freeze that into ice cubes or popsicle trays. This will be delicious.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:50 AM on August 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have done coconut milk in a popsicle mold to good results, added some maple syrup but that's not required.
posted by typecloud at 5:36 AM on August 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I used to enjoy ice milk. Pops are frozen without stirring (quiescently). Make your mix, put in freezer, mash with a fork as it's freezing to make passable ice milk Or buy popsicle molds and experiment. Skim milk with little sugar may freeze like water and be too hard to eat, sugar, fat, fruit, will help.
posted by theora55 at 6:33 AM on August 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Buy yourself a popsicle mold.

Three no-sugar recipes that I have tried to great acclaim:
-Greek yogurt and fresh peaches. Make sure the peaches are really ripe. Cherries or plums work as well.
-Greek yogurt mixed with a little peanut butter and put into the mold with slices of banana. Pre-freeze the banana slices a bit for best results. I usually make this with chocolate but you can leave it out.
-coconut milk, blueberries, and basil. Sounds weird, tastes amazing.
posted by mai at 6:54 AM on August 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Alright, you guys are the best. Instead of responding "nope, not commercially available," you provided recipes, food science, and articles on a bunch of related treats. Thanks!

I have just filled a popsicle mold with a couple apiece of: plain whole milk, plain whole milk yogurt, milk with pureed banana and strawberry, yogurt with banana and strawberry, and for the youngsters in the house, banana and strawberry both undiluted and diluted by strawberry lemonade. I also appreciate the more ambitious recipes. I figured I'd start simply freezing stuff and work my way up. I will report back!
posted by slidell at 11:05 AM on August 10, 2019 [6 favorites]

Okay, report #1! The tot and I just binged on a whole bunch of popsicles, equally excited to taste one after another.

Both the milk and yogurt pops were too solid for either of us to enjoy them. In fact, they survived this tasting session intact, because neither of us bothered to eat them. That said, I did make more, because they take one second to pour, and because I might have a different reaction eating them alone at 11 pm instead of on a 3-year-old's pace. At minimum, I can use them to make milky iced coffee.

The ones with just fruit puree were delicious and a great texture. But they were sweeter than I'm looking for. If I made them again, I'd probably try to tone down the sugar by including different fruits. (Bananas are pretty sweet.) The ones with lemonade and fruit weren't frozen yet, but I'm expecting about the same result there.

The best were the ones with fruit puree and either yogurt or milk. Both of those were good in different ways. In my opinion, the yogurt was best. I use an acidic Bulgarian whole milk yogurt, and that extra sourness went well with the fruit and brought out the strawberry flavor. (It's awesome that those were among the best because the yogurt is better than milk from a carb / glycemic perspective.) Those pops had a fairly creamy texture, with only a few spots with ice crystals. The milky ones, when frozen, had a fairly similar texture to the yogurt ones, though as they melted, they had a slightly less creamy texture (for the obvious reason that the yogurt ones melted into yogurt and the milk ones melted into milk). There was again an area kinda near the stick where either there were more crystals or the state of melting by that point made it more icy. The taste was mild and lightly sweet.

I threw in some with yogurt and pureed banana and blueberry next. Then things with the preschooler got hectic, so I skipped blueberry + milk (which I still really want to try) and just put in some milk.
posted by slidell at 5:35 PM on August 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

When I was a kid we would put all kinds of things in popsicle molds and milk with sugar was one of them. I see no reason why just plain milk wouldn't work. You lick them for a while and then you can chomp on them a bit as they melt.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:42 PM on August 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Okay, blueberry with banana is a hit. Again, the yogurt seems like a useful addition. Strawberry-peach with yogurt, however, is too subtle. The banana is a useful part of all this, proving all the comments above about the value of sugar. I probably won't report back for awhile, as my multi day popsicle binge has largely sated my desire for milk pops, but if I discover anything else great, I'll let you know. Thanks again!
posted by slidell at 9:34 PM on August 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

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