In the hot and sticky days of summer, there is nothing more refreshing than an ice cold popsicle. Kids in many countries (and adults too!) make and enjoy these icy treats in a variety of flavors. All over Mexico—from the sandy beaches to the bustling plazas in big cities—street vendors and neverías tempt us with colorful, fruity paletas.
The most common flavors stem from the tropical fruits found in Mexico: tamarindo (tamarind), mamey, guanábana, coco (coconut), limón (lime), mango, guayaba (guava), sandía (watermelon), jamaica (hibiscus flower), maracuyá (passion fruit), piña (pineapple), nanche, and fresa (strawberry).
However, some creative cooks have come up with incredibly exotic flavors such as arroz con leche (rice milk), tequila, pétalos de rosa (rose petals), piñon (pine nut, which are pink in Mexico!), zapote, aguacate (avocado), or cacahuate (peanut). If you are ever in Mexico City, check out “La Feria de la Nieve en Milpa Alta Xochimilco,” where hundreds of flavors of ice cream and paletas are made and tasted.
Paletas are generally made with fresh fruit, water, and sometimes a bit of sugar. Blended together into a thick fruit juice, the mixture is then poured into molds and frozen. When they are halfway done freezing, a popsicle stick (“paleta”) is stuck inside and they are left to freeze completely.
You can make your own paletas easily at home!
Because different fruits have different amounts of water, making paletas is not an exact science. Puree your favorite fruit with only enough water needed to have the consistency of a runny milkshake. The more water in the mixture, the harder the final texture is.
Taste the mixture, and see if it needs a bit of sugar. Certain flavors, like lime, coconut, and tamarindo, need more sugar, and other flavors, such as mango, might not need any sugar. If you’d like to substitute honey or agave, or any other sweetener, experiment to see which tastes the best!
I hope you enjoy this delicious frozen treat from Mexico.