Photo Credit: STAFF PHOTO: BARB RANDALL - Takako Shinjo, co-founder and owner of Genki-Su Japanese drinking vinegars, offers refreshing beverages to cool you during the hot weather.

I love sweltering heat. Give me 97 degrees in the shade over 75 any day. I credit my acclimation to blast-furnace temperatures to growing up in Klamath Falls, in southern Oregon’s high desert.

Early in the summer, temperatures there rise into the 90s and above for weeks on end. You have to know how to stay cool.

The best remedy? Popsicles. Mom kept a good supply on hand. Sometimes they were purchased popsicles — the kind with two sticks that could be split apart to share. But my favorite popsicles were those she made. She would pour Kool Aide or fruit juice into those Tupperware Popsicle molds and freeze them. Just when you needed it most, she would pull them out of the freezer. Popsicles kept us cool and comfortable even during the hottest spells.

I was recently introduced to a beverage that has become my go-to refreshment on hot, hot days: Genki-Su drinking vinegars. You might remember I introduced you to drinking vinegars about a year ago. They are made with vinegar and water and flavored with fruit, so the acidity is much reduced from cooking vinegar.

Genki-Su makes Japanese drinking vinegars here in Portland. Takako Shinjo, co-founder and owner of the company, invited me to a tasting. She uses a family recipe that uses coconut water, which is naturally aged to produce a high-quality vinegar. To this she adds fresh fruits to produce all-natural, sparkling beverages that are refreshing, tart, sweet and tasty.

“Drinking vinegar is an ancient Japanese practice that dates back to feudal times, when samurai warriors carried vinegar mixed with water into battle as a tonic to fight fatigue,” Takako said. “In present-day Japan, it is a practice that is enjoyed by nearly 70 percent of the population.”

Flavors include yuzu, a Japanese citrus; shiso, Japanese basil; ginger honey; cranberry; and nashi, or Asian pear. You can purchase the drinking vinegars as concentrates or in ready-to-drink form. The concentrates can be mixed with sparkling water, juices, tea or vodka to make unique, refreshing beverages.

You can purchase Genki-Su drinking vinegars online at and at Lamb’s Nature’s Choice Market, 1377 McVey Blvd. in Lake Oswego. If you order online, use the discount code “begenki” to receive at 15-percent discount on your purchase. The discount code will not be honored at Lamb’s Nature’s Choice.

Now, how about combining the cool simple joy of popsicles with the refreshment of Genki-Su drinking vinegars? I’m going to give that a try.

I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm for hot weather, so I hope these tips for keeping cool help. I’ve included a few recipes for popsicles that are sure to take your mind off the temperature, at least for a while. Get some relief with refreshing Genki-Su Japanese drinking vinegars, too.

Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!

Blueberry Lime Ice Pops

Makes 8 to 12

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (not thawed)

1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

Simmer blueberries, sugar and water in a 1 1/2 to 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally until blueberries burst and collapse, 3 to 5 minutes. Puree with lime juice in a blender until smooth. Use caution when blending hot liquids. Blend in sugar to taste. Pour into molds and freeze until slushy, about 45 minutes. Insert sticks and continue to freeze until completely hardened, at least 3 hours and up to 1 week.

Peaches and Cream Yogurt Pops

Makes 8 ice pops

3 ripe peaches (about 1 pound), chopped

3/4 cup Greek-style yogurt

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons Amaretto (optional)

Puree all ingredients with 1/8 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth. Pour into molds. Freeze 30 minutes. Insert sticks, then freeze until firm, about 24 hours.

Balsamic Strawberry Pops

Makes 6 to 8 pops

2 cups sliced, hulled strawberries (about 1 pound)

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

Place the strawberries and sugar in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture is finely chopped and juicey, but still chunky; you don’t want a smooth puree. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the balsamic vinegar and a few grinds of pepper.

Spoon the mixture into ice pop molds and insert sticks. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 week.

To unmold the pops, run hot water over the outsides of the molds for a few seconds, then gently pull the sticks.

Recipes courtesy of

Barb Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext 100 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter at @barbrandallfood.

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