Introduction: Pixie Sticks (Pixie Stix)

About: I helped start Instructables, previously worked in biotech and academic research labs, and have a degree in biology from MIT. Currently head of Product helping young startups at Alchemist Accelerator, previous…

These dead-simple homemade treats are the best pixie sticks you'll ever eat! They're made with real fruit instead of artificial flavors and colors, but still have the exact sweet-tart flavor you love in pixie sticks. And the recipe for homemade pixie sticks couldn't be simpler.

This is a great hands-on activity for kids old enough to operate a funnel, as you'll probably want help filling all those straws. Keep them occupied and entertained making their own portable summer treats!

Step 1: Tools & Ingredients

Ingredients: (scale as you see fit)
60g dextrose1 (I got mine cheaply from Amazon)
3g citric acid (I got mine at the local yuppie grocery, but it's also cheap and easily available online)
10g freeze-dried fruits of your choice (I picked strawberries & blueberries up at Trader Joe's, and cherries at Whole Foods)

scale (especially if you're doing small quantities)
spice grinder (clean coffee grinder or mini food processor)
straws (brightly-colored paper straws look awesome, and hold about 1g powder)
paper funnel & poking stick

1I used dextrose because this is the same sugar used in commercial pixie stix, but you can also substitute table sugar (sucrose).  However, since table sugar is generally estimated to be 1.5-2x as sweet as dextrose, you'll have to use 30-40g of table sugar in place of the dextrose in the recipe above, and it may never taste quite "right".  I'll run the test myself soon, and update the Instructable with suitable quantities, but in the meantime taste and modify as needed.

Step 2: Grind Fruit

Weigh out your freeze-dried fruit, then grind it in your spice grinder. (Or grind a bunch, then weigh out 5g.) If you're going low-tech, a mortar and pestle would work too.

If you want to be super-careful, use a sifter to remove any remaining chunks when you're done.  I didn't bother, and thought everything tasted great. 

Step 3: Add Sugar and Citric Acid

Weigh out the dextrose and citric acid, and add them to your powdered fruit.  It's fine to mix them directly in your food processor or grinder with the fruit, as this will ensure an even distribution.  Otherwise mix thoroughly with a fork or whisk.

Step 4: Fill Straws

Grab your straws (paper is best, but plastic works), and make a thin paper funnel.  Clip the end of the funnel so just fits inside the straw.  A piece of thin wire can also be useful.  Now you're ready to fill the straws.

- Crimp one end of your straw (if using paper) or staple or otherwise clip the end of a plastic straw.
- Stablize the crimped end in a cup or other tube; I used the center of my mini food processor.
- Scoop pixie dust into the funnel, and work it through with your wire.
- Fill to last 1/3", and crimp the other end of the straw.

- Match each flavor to a color-coded straw.
- My straws held 1g pixie dust, so you may need LOTS of straws!  Plan accordingly.

Step 5: Share or Store

That's it!  You've got a fistful of fabulous homemade pixie sticks, minus the artificial colors and flavors.

Store in an air-tight container to prevent moisture from mucking with your nicely freeze-dried fruits.  These pixie sticks will store indefinitely in a dry climate, but if it rains a lot where you live and you'll need to store them for any length of time longer than a couple of days, it's best consider putting a desiccant pack in the container to suck up any extra humidity. 

Of course, these are the most delicious pixie sticks (or pixie stix) you'll ever eat - offer some to friends, and I guarantee you won't have leftovers.

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