You probably remember these from your childhood or from your kid's kid-hood. They're delicious and when you make them at home, you control the sugar, and even give them a little boost of nutrition… for a candy, at least. This is a supremely easy-to-make confection, with only three natural ingredients. No chemicals, no kidding!
Citric acid is a substance naturally occurring in fruit like oranges, tangerines, raspberries and blueberries. It's the thing that gives the Twisty Stix their sharp tanginess. You can find citric acid online, but make sure you're using "food grade" quality. If you're not familiar with freeze dried fruit, it's different from other dried fruit like apricots or raisins. This is real fruit that is first frozen and then pressurized to remove the moisture, so it ends up light and crunchy. It's completely natural; there's nothing else in there – just fruit! 1. Take 1/4 cup of the freeze dried fruit, put in a blender and pulverize. 2. Pour that powder into a bowl, add 1/4 cup sugar and 1-1/2 tsp. citric acid. 3. Mix with a whisk and it's finished. 4. Taste it! It tastes just like the ones you remember as a kid… better actually! Adjust the fruit-to-sugar ratio if you like. 5. Fill the straws. I use biodegradable paper straws, because they're more like the original. (You can use plastic straws, just carefully use a torch or match to fuse the ends. Hold with pliers.) Glue and fold the bottom end, holding the glued bit in place with a tiny binder-clip until it's dry. 6. use a tiny funnel (make one with paper) to fill each straw with powder. 7. Fold and glue the top, and your Twisty Stix are finished!
If you're using raspberries and rather thin straws, you may need to sift the seeds out of your mixture before putting in straws. There goes most of any fiber benefits of your Twisty Stix, but hey… it's candy.
Each straw holds about one teaspoon of powder, so one batch makes about 15 to 20 Twisty Stix. They're delicious and when you let the kids have this treat you're sneaking real fruit into their diet! Bravo you! There are lots of different types of freeze dried fruit –strawberries, raspberries (my favorite!), and even mangoes. Think of the possibilities. And… two in a glass of mineral water, wine, or liquor makes a very nice sweet cocktail. Tear off the ends of the straw, and you've got instant deliciousness with real fruit. Enjoy revisiting the classic.
If you live in a high-humidity area or make these on a particularly damp day, the powder can clump and stick inside the straws. I've found that blueberries are particularly prone to this. To prevent, don't over-pulverize the fruit. Make within a day or two of using Twisty Stix and use plastic straws to further prevent exposure to moisture.
Pixi Stix evolved from a drink powder called Frutola, created in the 1930s. It was made to be mixed with water as a drink, but kids were more interested in eating the powder alone, so the manufacturers re-packaged it to be eaten with a spoon. Eventually, the sugar-delivery system was streamlined into paper straws, which could easily be poured into kids' mouths. A candy classic was born. For more nifty ideas from Tamara Berg, visit www.tamaracentral.com