***Please ignore the specific criteria as I'm not reviewing a website, I'm reviewing a physical product, given that it's in the correct category I'm not sure why ciao have given specific criteria pertaining to a website!?!***
Tis the season for ice cream and ice lollies, but looking round the supermarkets I am somewhat disappointed with both the selection and the cost of branded and unbranded ice lollies, not to mention the fact that they are somewhat smaller than I remember them being as a child, but I think that's the same with pretty much everything these days, lets whack the price up and make the produce smaller. The calorie content of some of these summer treats is also an eye opener and so when my partner and I came across the Zoku quick pop maker it seemed like a good idea....arm yourself with the tools to make your own and you can tailor make your own ice lollies.
Now my partner has a huge passion for gadgets and toys, and I think this is mostly a male thing and it was like watching him turn into a small child....the wide grin and the animated excitement whilst talking about the purchase of this ice lolly maker was highly entertaining. Once we decide to buy something a lot of research goes into the purchase....mostly to determine where we can get the product cheapest, and so began our search for the Zoku quick pop maker. This ice lolly making device reminds me of something you would probably see on dragon's den, the idea is so simplistic it's pure genious.
What is the Zoku quick pop maker
Well if you hadn't already guessed from my verbiage above, the ZOKU quick pop maker is an ice lolly making machine, but there's no electricity required for this, simply pop in the freezer for 24 hours and when ready watch the magic happen. The unit can just rest on your kitchen worktop and it will make the ice lollies in 7-9 minutes.
What do you get
Presented in a small rectangular box, which when I saw the size of it I was pleasantly surprised as the unit was smaller than expected, the zoku quick pop maker comes with some essential tools to make it easy to use the unit. So alongside the unit itself which has 3 ice lolly moulds located on the top, it also comes with 6 popsicle sticks, each with a different design on to make them unique, 6 drip trays which attach to the popsicle sticks when in use to prevent messy drips landing on your carpet and a super tool, which is used to remove the frozen ice lollies from the unit itself.
How does it work
The Zoku quick pop maker comes with a complete step by step guide making it incredibly easy to use and it goes something like this;Step 1
First place your completely dry zoku Quick pop maker in the freezer level and upright and leave to freeze for approximately 24 hours before use. It is important to follow the instructions as if the mould isn't completely dry when you go to use the quick pop maker, the instructions state that it may be impossible to move your popsicle and we wouldn't want that to happen now would we.
Step 2Step 3
Remove your quickpop maker from the freezer but be careful not to touch the metal centre as you run the risk of getting your fingers stuck, and transfer to the ice lolly making factory (also known as your kitchen) where the fun can begin. Gently shake the unit to make sure there is no sloshing about inside, if you hear liquid moving inside the unit then it is not completely frozen and it will not work effectively...if it's not fully frozen after 24 hours then I suggest you check your freezer settings as it may not be low enough (0 degrees or less).
Place your popsicle sticks into each of the 3 moulds and make sure the tabs fit neatly into the notches located at the top of the unit. Once your popsicle sticks are secured in the unit, it's time to pour in the juice (it's better if the juice is chilled as it will freeze faster). Fill the moulds up to the fill line, sit back and watch your ice lolly form. Within 7-9 minutes you should be ready to take your frozen ice lolly out of the mould.
This is where the super tool comes into play. At the bottom of the popsicle stick (or the top as it may appear while your ice lolly is freezing) is a threaded hole where you simply place the super tool over the top and rotate clockwise until your ice lolly loosens through the application of pressure. Once the ice lolly has loosened simply unscrew the super tool (rotating counter clockwise) while the ice lolly is still in the mould, and once completely removed gently pull the finished product out.
The quick pop maker has been designed so you can make up to 9 ice lollies at a time. If the unit is completely frozen, your first set of ice lollies should take between 7 and 9 minutes before they are ready to eat, but each set after the first will take slightly longer as the unit slowly starts to defrost.
My personal experience and recommendation
We have had the Zoku quick pop maker now for around a month and have used it several times since purchasing. We followed the instructions to the letter and for our first lot of ice lollies we used Tropicana still pink lemonade and true to it's word about 8 minutes after pouring the liquid in the moulds, our icicles were ready to eat. Using the super tool, the icicles were easily removed from the unit and the drip trays just clip into place around the bottom of the popsicle stick to catch any drips. The icicles were perfectly formed and very easy to eat off of the plastic popsicle stick What is great about the quick pop maker is you can tailor make your own ice lollies, using healthier ingredients than supermarket alternatives and if you've got kids this is a great way to keep them entertained and cool in the summer whilst tricking them into eating something a little more healthy than a regular icicle. Use fruit, vegetables and even pop in some herbs or spices to get your own unique flavours, but just take note, the thicker the consistency of the liquid, the longer it will take for your ice lolly to freeze.
Different methods for your ice lollies
We have tried several different methods for making our ice lollies and each time we have been successful in our experiments. You can make even more unique ice lollies by layering different types of juices to make a zebra stripe effect, simply choose two different coloured juices and layer your ice lolly. Of course this sort of technique will take slightly longer to produce a finished result than a regular ice lolly but it makes it a little more exciting, experimenting with different flavours and techniques. To get the zebra striped effect just pour juice into the bottom and once frozen pour another layer on top of the bottom layer and then when that's frozen repeat the process again until you've reached the fill line, and once completely frozen remove, using the method provided in step 4. If you want to be really clever you can make zig zag icicles by using the layering method but instead of keeping the unit upright, angle it and place a book or something underneath to stabilise the unit and repeat in the opposite angle. Trying out new recipes and new methods really is a lot of fun and I don't think you'll get bored coming up with new things to do.
Ever wonder how ice lolly manufacturers manage to get the centre one flavour and the outer shell another. Well it's actually really simple....all you have to do is fill the mould to the fill line as though making one flavour of ice lollies, and if you look really carefully you can actually see the outer shell freeze. Once the outer shell is at the desired thickness you can use a straw to suck out the juice contained within the centre and replace with a different fruity flavour and then leave to freeze completely, the results can be interesting and very tasty. For you chocolate lovers, dip your finished icicle in some melted chocolate and form a lovely chocolately coating .
Along with these exciting techniques you can also add other ingredients such as fruit, nuts and even sweets to your mould. To do this simply place whatever ingredient you want to add such as fruit to the walls of the mould before adding the liquid. The result will be that whatever ingredient you have added will be a fruity lining on the outer shell of your icicle. There really are no limitations to what you can do with your icicle and as I say, the experimenting is what makes the zoku quick pop maker so appealing.
Storage and cleaning
There are a few important things that you should never do with your quick pop maker and it's accessories, one of those things is please do not put any of the items in your dishwasher to clean and always make sure the unit is completely defrosted before attempting to clean, so that the water doesn't freeze inside the moulds. It's important not to use any abrasive products or scourers on the unit as this will damage it. It really doesn't require cleaning after each individual use...after one month we have only cleaned ours once using warm soapy water. For storage the best place to keep the quickpop maker is in the freezer and that at least ensures that it's ready to use when next you need something juicy and delicious to cool you down or indeed plan on being creative, however don't store the popsicle sticks or the super tool in the freezer, probably best just to have these to hand in your cutlery drawer.
Some things to remember
low suger or no added sugar drinks may be very difficult to take out of the mould and these types of liquid may stick fast to the mould and get stuck. It's important not to use extreme force in these situations with the super tool as you run the risk of breaking both the tool and the popsicle stick you're trying to remove. Do not touch the metal part of the quick pop maker when it is frozen as frozen fingers are not very pleasant and please remember that the quick pop maker is not a toy and your children should be supervised at all times. If you lose any of the accessories that come with your quick pop maker you can easily order replacements along with other zoku tools from the zoku website www.zokuhome.com. The most important thing to remember is to always enjoy the icicles you make with your quickpop maker.
Cost and where to buy
There are a few places that sell the quick pop maker again at varying prices. It's available from lakeland for £34.99, £40 from John Lewis, but we got ourselves a bargain from Zavvi with the quick pop maker costing us only £27.95 with free delivery. As well as the three mould version there is also a due version with only 2 ice lolly moulds instead of 3 but personally I think the three mould version would be better for families.
As stated by the zoku manufacturers, the only limitation with this incredible gadget is your imagination, the possibilties really are endless - highly recommended and just think of how much money you could save on ice lollies by making your own, and it's healthier too.