Tim Knorr has been putting a lot of miles on the family pickup this summer. Each week he drives to five local farmers markets in Northeast Ohio hauling a shiny stainless steel pushcart filled with popsicles. But these are no ordinary icy confections. Popsmith pops are made with seasonal fruits and herbs that Tim and his wife, Beth, select from nearby farms. "That's a core value for us," says Knorr. That is no surprise since the couple are former farmers themselves. "It's important to us to support those who work to make a living off the land," adds Beth. "And the quality of locally sourced ingredients just can't be beat."
Popsmith debuted in June at the Countryside Farmers' Market in Peninsula, which Beth manages. But the pair spent all of last summer perfecting inventive flavor combinations such as Cucumber Mint (shown on previous page), Rhubarb Orange Blossom, Cucumber Elderflower, Blackberry Watermelon (a favorite of their 6-year-old son Gus), Blueberry Lavender Lemon and Elote (a combination of sweet corn, chile and lime). The pops ($3 each) are two-thirds fruit with a dense, smooth consistency and intense taste. "We use the best fruit at the peak of its goodness, organic sugar and never add anything fake," says Tim.
Neither remembers exactly who had the idea to become popsicle pushers, but they both agree it started with jogging. Tim had become a recent devotee after leaving his position as farm manager at Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath — a job he'd held for 15 years — to be a stay-at-home dad.
"I made frozen popsicles for the kids," says Beth. "Tim liked them as a post-run refresher, but thought he could improve on what I was doing. He began playing around in the kitchen."
His efforts yielded delicious results and an entrepreneurial inspiration. Next thing they knew, the couple were investing their savings in equipment.
"We had to get the freezer from Brazil," explains Tim. "Nobody in America manufactures a small machine like this, but they're common in South America where mom-and-pop operators like us make paletas [frozen fruit bars]."
The duo work in an a commercial kitchen inside a church near their home, crafting small batches — 88 metal molds — that go into a subzero alcohol bath and are solid in 20 minutes.
Tim puts in 15 to 20 hours a week there. Beth, who's keeping her day job, helps when she can. "I do the marketing, social media and bookkeeping," says Beth. "Tim wears the boss pants on the production side."
This month's selections include variations on peach as well as cucumber. Look for pear and caramel apple pops in the fall. The Knorrs will close up shop at the end of October. "We plan to do more flavor experimentation, refine our processes, spend more time with our two kids and take long naps!" Beth says.