Any arrangement of these homemade treats, which use real fruit and none of the preservatives or artificial flavors of the childhood favorite, is undeniably festive. Filling the straws is the most difficult part, but it gets easier as you get the rhythm and the technique.
1/2 cup freeze-dried fruit
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Rina Rapuano for NPR
Sugar and dehydrated fruit are pulverized using a mortar and pestle.
Sugar and dehydrated fruit are pulverized using a mortar and pestle. Rina Rapuano for NPR
Combine sugar and fruit in a clean coffee grinder and pulse for 5 seconds at a time until all the fruit chunks are gone. A mortar and pestle also work well. Taste the mixture and add fruit or sugar to taste. (If using more than one type of freeze-dried fruit, be sure to keep the one-to-one ratio. I used a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of fruit for each variety, which made 6 sticks at a time.)
Bend the bottom of a paper straw, and make a paper cone with a hole just large enough to fit inside your straw.
Sprinkle the mixture into the cone a little at a time so it won't clump, filling each straw about 8/10 full. Tipping the straw and cone to the side while filling and poking the mixture into the straw with a cake tester or toothpick is a good technique. Fold the top to seal.
Store in a dry place.