Photo of a variety of paletas

Paletas: Mexican Ice Pops

Are you a morning person – up with the sun, errands all done way before noon? Or, do you relish the later part of the day and cherish the quiet that comes after 11 p.m.?

I’m a night owl who works hard to try to be a morning, well, truth be told, mid-morning person.

Yesterday, in the heat of the day, I had lots of afternoon stops and you don’t need me to tell you summer temperatures are here. Aunt Gene let me know it was 100° in New Jersey.

A surefire way to kind of beat the heat is to savor a paleta – the Mexican ice pop – where the flavor options are endless. You may have grown up (and really, who didn’t) with those brightly colored sugar water/artificial flavor versions. If so, it’s time to discover a whole other world of frozen treats of fruits, nuts, spices and herbs.

While food historians believe ice cream originated in China and Marco Polo brought it to Europe, the paleta’s origin is lesser known. One idea is when servants of the Aztec emperors brought ice from Mexico City’s Popocatépetl volcano and mixed in seasonal fresh fruit.

According to culinary tour company Eat Mexico, a more plausible explanation is traced to 1800s Mexico celebrating its independence and Spain no longer having a monopoly on ice and its accompanying high taxes. With newfound affordability, people got creative inventing treats to beat the heat.

In the 1940s, La Michoacana, a family business in Tocumbo, Michoacán, was making ice cream before incorporating milk-based paletas to their offerings. Water varieties include tamarind, soursop (aka graviola and tastes like strawberry, apple and citrus), guava, watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, strawberry, lime, lemon, cucumber and grape, with or without chile powder.

Paletas can be dipped in chocolate, rolled in nuts, graham cracker crumbs, crushed cookies, shredded coconut, chopped herbs and sea salt. The only limitation is your imagination.

Show some love to the father’s in your life on June 14 making chocolate tarts with BATA Pastry Chef Kayla Draper. Meringue mustaches will add a whimsical touch.

No travel to Peru needed on June 16 for Chef Sybil Velarde’s Peruvian cuisine and cultural influences class.

On June 28, the Foods of Father Kino is the theme for this month’s Flavors of Tucson City of Gastronomy series featuring Gallery of Food owner, Chef Kristine Jensen. For 30 years, sourcing local ingredients has been one of her guiding principles.

News & Notes
Kingfisher Bar & Grill’s 29th Annual Summer Road Trip starts today. Until June 11, the Southwest menu is the first stop; it’s the Pacific Northwest from June 14-25; Down South from June 28 – July 2 and July 19-23; Great Plains/Midwest from July 26 – August 6; Back East from August 9-20 and California/Hawaii from August 23 – September 3.

From today until September 8 on Sundays-Wednesdays, kids under 10 will eat for free at most of the Si Charro! restaurants: All El Charro Café locations, The Monica, Charro Steak & Del Rey and Barrio Charro. For each paying adult entrée, two kids can choose from the kids menu.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen,

Yield: 8 servings

3 cups coarsely chopped ripe fresh fruit like strawberries, pineapple, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup water
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Key lime or regular lime juice

  1. Place half the fruit, sugar, water and lime juice in a blender and blend until smooth.
    2. Dice the other half of the fruit. Spoon fruit into ice pop mold, then add blended mixture, leaving ½-inch headspace for expansion.
    3. Place mold in the freezer at least 6 hours to firm up. If your mold doesn’t have built-in sticks, or you’re using paper cups or another container as molds, remove after 1 hour, insert wooden sticks and return to freezer.

Notes: Change up the main ingredient. Besides the fruits listed above, use kiwi, raspberries, blueberries or guava.
Use any type of milk or fruit/vegetable juices in place of water.
Add piloncillo, brown sugar, stevia or no sugar.
Try them with tamarind paste or powdered chile.

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