Frozen fundraising treat has a flavour that can’t be beet

Vinegar, sour cream and beets… not typical dessert ingredients and yet this trinity has found its way into a frozen treat, courtesy of the folks at The Ace Burpee Show and local business Pop Cart.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/08/2022 (228 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Vinegar, sour cream and beets… not typical dessert ingredients and yet this trinity has found its way into a frozen treat, courtesy of the folks at The Ace Burpee Show and local business Pop Cart.

A throwaway remark during a chance conversation on the 103.1 Virgin Radio morning show resulted in what some might consider an outrageous but yet entirely Manitoba creation: frozen borscht on a stick, a.k.a. the Borschtsicle.

And now 300 sticks of the savoury-sweet treat, priced at $5 a pop, will be available for one day only at St. Norberts Farmers’ Market on Wednesday. All proceeds will be donated to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

“At the start of summer, we got on to the topic of a borscht-inspired popsicle. LTI, he’s one of the announcers, brought up the idea and the more we talked about it, the more we thought it had potential,” explains Amber Saleem, executive producer of The Ace Burpee Show.

Saleem started doing some research and reached out to Pop Cart, inviting them to collaborate on a soup-inspired treat.

“When they first came to me with the idea my first question was, ‘Is this meant to be a joke?’” says Ryan Wiebe, who co-owns Pop Cart with his business partner Shawn Vidal.

“I asked them if they wanted us to create frozen borscht on a stick or something that is borscht-inspired. We came up with a way to capture the essence of the soup and put it in popsicle format so that it’s something that people can enjoy.”

Wiebe and the team at Pop Cart got to work, creating prototypes that they tested out on wives and neighbours — some of whom were dubious at tasting a beet ice.

One prototype had broth in it, another was very tangy, owing to the vinegar content, and yet another had a fair amount of beetroot powder.

“We had to balance the level of beet with the level of the tang,” Wiebe explains. “The one made with the broth, you’d have to really enjoy borscht to like that one. In the end we settled on one which is really accessible.

“There were around 10 to 12 people who tested it out and at first everyone’s reaction was the same,” Wiebe recalls. But as soon as they took a bite, “they all said it was pretty great.”

“It was really interesting because he took all the key ingredients that make borscht what it is and played with the vinegar ratio and beet flavour. We talked about incorporating sour cream in there. We tested three in total, and it was very quick to settle on the one that we are selling tomorrow,” Saleem adds.

Unlike all Pop Cart’s other products, which are dairy-free, Wiebe and his team have included sour cream and milk in this recipe to create the tangy creaminess borscht is famous for.

The limited-edition Borschticle is the first of what he hopes might be more collaborations with the radio station, Wiebe says.

“The Borschticle is something we would consider making an annual thing, available over fall or summer. We have also talked to them about partnering about other initiatives, with other creative limited editions,” he continues.

The Borschticle in on sale for the first time today, beginning at 3 p.m. at St Norbert Farmers Market, 3514 Pembina Hwy. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Every popsicle sold will come with a coupon that pledges a 10 per cent contribution of the next popsicle purchase going towards the same cause.

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AV Kitching

AV Kitching

AV Kitching is an arts and life writer at the Free Press.

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