Paletas are Mexican ice pops, typically made with fresh fruit. A popular street food also sold at shops called paleterias, some pops are sweet but others include a bit of heat with the addition of chiles. I try not to include recipes here that require special equipment. However, I’ve had so much fun making my own ice pops this summer I had to share. See my tips below for workarounds if you don’t have a juice extractor or ice pop molds.
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
3 cups watermelon, peeled, seeded and cubed
1/2 English cucumber, peeled
1 lime, peeled
Pinch of kosher salt
In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat. Rub the mint leaves between your palms to release the flavor, then drop them into the saucepan. Cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain using a mesh sieve and refrigerate until chilled.
If you will be using wooden sticks, now is a good time to set them in warm water. This helps keep them in place while the pops are setting.
Meanwhile, feed the watermelon cubes, cucumber and lime through a juice extractor. You will have about 2 to 2-1/2 cups of fresh juice.
Place the juice in a bowl. Add the chilled mint syrup and stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt and stir once again. I like to use a measuring cup with a spout like these to make filling the molds easy. I used standard 2.5 oz. pop molds. I love the classic ice cream bar shape and the serving size is perfect, too.
Fill the pop molds making sure to leave a little room for expansion at the top. Remove the sticks from the warm water and place them so they end about 2/3 the way down the mold. Set the pops in the coldest part of your freezer (for me, this is the pull-out drawer top rack of my bottom-freezer model). If you have a turbo-freeze feature, now is a good time to use it. The pops will take about 4 hours to fully freeze. I like to make them overnight, so I’m not exactly sure how long it takes.
To unmold the pops, run the mold under warm water for a few seconds. They should slide right out of the molds. Store pops in freezer bags or in a sealable freezer-safe container. They should last a solid week in the freezer before starting to form ice crystals. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts they don’t last a week (if your kids or their friends are anything like ours). Enjoy!
No juicer? Try using your blender. You will need to cut the cucumber into chunks first. Instead of using the peeled lime, just add the juice of one lime. Once you have pureed the watermelon, cucumber and lime juice, add the chilled syrup and pulse again. This mixture will be a bit chunkier than the juice extractor variety. You will proceed with filling the molds from here.
No molds? You can use small cups or even muffin tins instead. To get the sticks to stand up straight, let the pops become slushy in the freezer first, then use a piece of foil fitted over the top to hold them in place. The sticks will poke out from the foil.
If you are looking for an alternative breakfast drink, I recommend doubling the watermelon, cucumber and lime. Reserve about 2-1/2 cups for your pops, then chill the rest to drink when you’d like! I had a glass of this juice after a workout recently and it was a lovely way to start the day.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Number of servings: 10 pops
For more great recipes from Alicia follow her blog Weekly Greens or follow her on Instagram on @aliciasokol