I’ve heard paletas described as Mexican popsicles. This always seemed so wrong because the name paletas literally means “little shovel,” and their mind-boggling flavor varieties—some bordering on savory—never seemed comparable to popsicles, besides them both being frozen. Paletas can come in a wide variety of flavors, from coconut to tamarind, can include milk, and sometimes a thickening agent, like agar or gelatin. Most commonly, paletas are fruit-flavored with some kind of fruit or pulp inside. This recipe combines three different fruit flavors: blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. It’s a great recipe for younger cooks as well. My five-year-old brother, Land, and I make it together. I find that blending, minimal cutting, boiling, and freezing are really great introductory skills to learn.
Tie-dye Berry Paletas
- 1 pound strawberries, hulled
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons natural cane sugar
- Zest of 1 lime
- 3/4 cup (about 6 ounces) blueberries
- 3/4 cup (about 6 ounces) blackberries
- In a blender, combine the strawberries, 1⁄4 cup of the sugar, and 1 cup of water. Blend until the strawberries turn into a smooth liquid. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to cook for 5 minutes until it looks slightly thickened and the color intensifies. Strain the strawberry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. What’s left in the sieve will be mostly seeds and can be composted. Stir the lime zest into the strawberry mixture and set it to the side to infuse.
- While the strawberries are infusing, start on your other berry mixture. In the same blender (no need to rinse it out), blend the blueberries, blackberries, the remaining 1⁄2 cup of water, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. In the same pan (no need to rinse it out) over medium heat, bring the blueberry-blackberry. mixture to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes, until the berries start to thicken. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a separate bowl. What’s left in the sieve can be composted. Stir the lime juice into the blueberry mixture.
- Get out your popsicle molds. I find that most molds fit about 1⁄2 cup of liquid. Pour 1⁄3 cup of the strawberry mixture into each popsicle mold. Then, slowly pour or spoon 2 tablespoons of the blueberry-blackberry mixture into each mold. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze overnight.
- When the paletas are frozen and you’re ready to eat, run the molds under warm water to help release the paletas. Store leftovers in the freezer for up to a month.