There’s nothing like a sweet, sticky popsicle to cool down from the summer heat. There are many ways to make popsicles, but Mexico has their own version called the paleta. Paletas are different from a regular popsicle in that they are made with fresh local fruit and lots of it. Plus, they are considerably less sweet than their American cousins. Learning how to make paletas is easy and fun – let me show you!
We will start with a bit of history. The beginning of the paleta industry in Mexico traces back to Tocumbo, Michoacan in the 1940’s. This is where a family paleta business, La Michoacana, flourished and spread to the rest of the country. Today, La Michoacana operates in almost any town in Mexico and Tocumbo is known as the “land of paletas.” There’s even a gigantic monument to the paleta in the town entrance, and an annual paleta festival.
Mexican paletas are known for their unconventional flavors. It might be trendy now, but Mexico has been making avocado, corn, arroz con leche, rose petal, and tequila paletas for years. That being said, you can’t go wrong with the classic flavors of strawberry, coconut, chile, mango-chamoy, and tamarind.
If you are ever in Mexico you can find dairy-free paletas by asking for paletas de agua (water-based). They are just as delicious as the paletas de leche (milk-based)!
How to Make Paletas
The best part is that paletas are easy to make at home. To make paletas you will need:
A paleta mold
A paleta mold can especially come in handy if you have kids, but it is not necessary. If you don’t have a mold, shot glasses, or even small plastic cups work as well.
Make sure you buy food grade popsicle sticks, not craft sticks. Crafts sticks are for crafting and are not suitable for making popsicles.
Fruit, lots of fruit
Choose fruits that are ripe and in season. Seasonal fruits are the sweetest, most delicious and least expensive. In the summer you can use peaches, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, watermelon, mango, cherries, or melon. You will need some fruit to make the base of the paleta, then another portion of chopped up fruit to add to the paleta itself.
After choosing your fruit you will have to decide if you want water or milk based paletas. Milk paletas can be made with any plant-based milk such as almond, coconut, cashew, macadamia or soy.
Finally, you will need a sweetener to bring it all together like sugar, maple syrup, agave, or coconut sugar.
To make your paletas blend the fruit, liquid and sweetener. Be sure to set aside chopped fruit to add to the paleta later. (It’s up to you whether you want to cook the fruit with the milk. For example, these creamy strawberry coconut paletas call for the strawberries to be cooked in the milk). Then fill the molds half way with the blended mixture, add 1-2 tbsp of chopped fruit, and fill the rest of the mold. Place lid on mold, add popsicle sticks and freeze for at least 5 hours. Enjoy!