Looks like it’s going to be a great Fourth of July weekend this year! With plenty of hot sun, warm weather, and fun events to keep the entire family entertained, it’s sure to be a holiday weekend to remember.

For so many reasons, this is one of the best times of the year to live in New England.  We are finally fully ensconced in summer here, and our patience with the long, snowy winter has paid off. Yes, it’s true: berry season is upon us! Whether you are a fan of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries or blueberries, this month marks the time when you have local access to pretty much all of them. Pick them yourself or head over to your local farmers’ market and stock up. Berries don’t last long, but there are so many ways to preserve them that take very little time and effort. You can make a quick jam using this easy recipe; wash and freeze them for months to come; or you can make them into a simple and healthy dessert that everyone will love: homemade popsicles.

What could be better than an icy pop made up of local, fresh berries and yogurt? Getting your kids involved in the fun- after all, there are very few things that are more fun than getting down and dirty with a bowl full of strawberries that you are allowed to “smush”- with your HANDS!

While the recipe below features a mixed-berry approach of strawberries and blueberries to celebrate this weekend’s patriotic festivities, feel free to use any kind of berry, or stone fruits (plums, peaches, etc.) as we get into August and September.  Another fun idea? Keep the berries separate and make three different batches of popsicles: each to represent the colors of the flag. If you have several popsicle molds on hand,  make one batch that is just strawberry, one that is all blueberry, and for the “white,” try your hand at an all banana-yogurt popsicle.  If you don’t have popsicle molds, here are a few source ideas, or feel free to use what we did growing up: paper cups and popsicle sticks.

Patriotic Mixed-Berry Pops
Yields 6 popsicles

1 cup strawberries, mashed
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
juice of 1/2 of a lemon, about 2-3 tablespoons
1/3 cup yogurt (I used plain Greek)

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves into the water completely. Squeeze the lemon into the simple syrup, stir and put aside.  Wash and hull the strawberries, and slice them into rough chunks. With clean hands, smush and mash the strawberries until you have “strawberry soup,” with some whole pieces of berries suspended in strawberry juice. Add the blueberries, the yogurt, and the lemon-y simple syrup: stir well until yogurt and syrup is mixed in completely.

Pour the fruit-yogurt mixture into a large liquid measuring cup (especially if it has a pourer- this will make it easier to pour the liquid into the molds). A funnel might also come in handy. Pour the mixture into your molds, leaving a bit of room at the top of each mold as the mixture will expand when frozen. Cap the molds and put in the freezer for at least 4 hours. If you have extra, simply pour into a small jar and freeze for an extra bonus. I have also mixed in more yogurt with my extras to create something a bit different that is more frozen yogurt-like and less-popsicle like.

Enjoy!