Kellan Emge has been making popsicles since the Tupperware-molded ones were all the rage. She has parlayed that love of the flavored ice into her company, Paletas Pop Culture.
Paleta is a word that describes a Mexican ice pop, where the flavors are wide-ranging and the ingredients consist of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and a minimal amount of sugar.
Kellan invited me over to develop a new recipe, this one was for Strawberry Avocado Cilantro. She keeps a detailed journal of all her recipe experiments. Every attempt, every tweak, every thought is logged here. Everything is weighed and measured exactly. The goal here is to be able to some day mass produce all of these lovely paletas, so the more specific, the better.
Kellan is ready to go. She has prepared the produce, readied the Vitamix and put on her trusty apron.
The Vitamix is crucial to the entire operation. After blowing through three $80 blenders during one season last year, she decided to bite the bullet and make the investment towards the top of the line Vitamix. She loves this appliance so much that she devoted an entire blog post to it.
As I was soon to learn, without this machine, there is no quality paleta product produced. (In other words, worth every penny.)
Paletas are known for their simplicity and unique fresh flavors. In accordance with this, Kellen only uses organic evaporated sugar cane juice for her recipes. No high fructose corn syrup happening here.
Strawberries are hulled with a melon baller (a great trick I learned here this day) and weighed.
Avocados, lime and cilantro are all then chopped and weighed, as well.
Strawberries go first into the Vitamix. One pulse and they are pulverized. This is the base flavor. From here, she will decide whether to add the sugar, citrus or other flavors and how much.
Kellan is a nervous wreck while making this recipe. She is excited, anxious and just about every other emotion while we are making this. Just look at her body language here. She is a perfectionist and wants so badly for it to taste well, perfect.
At this stage, the strawberries, cilantro and avocado have been added. The concoction is super thick and she will add lime juice next to cut the thickness and add flavor.
A few (well, quite a few) taste tests later, we have finally found the right mix. Evidence of our tasting (below) is laden in the trash.
After perfecting the recipe, Kellen will take her ingredients and trusty notebook to her commercial kitchen, where she will prepare hundreds of these paletas. Freezing is a science with paletas, which she has come to find out through trial and error. The paletas are full of natural sugar content which takes less time to freeze. Foods that are more processed take longer to freeze.
She sells for private events and at Farmer’s Markets.
She also has a pink freezer at Block Party Handmade Boutique, which is where I first noticed her paletas.
We visited Kellan at the Landis Lakes Farmer’s Market where on this hot day, hers was a very popular booth. We sampled many different kinds, with the Blueberry Lemonade being the most popular of the day.
Paletas Pop Culture are sold at Farmer’s Markets around town and always in their cute pink freezer at Block Party Handmade Boutique in SoFo. Follow Kellan’s blog at paletapopculture.tumblr.com and on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/PaletaPopCulture.
To contact Kellan, email her at [email protected].