Pulcaletas: The drink of the gods made popsicle

22/11/2019
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19:10
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Pulcaletas: The drink of the gods made popsicle
Pulcaletas were created in 015 - Photo: Taken from Pulcaletas' Facebook account

Pulcaletas: The drink of the gods made popsicle

22/11/2019
19:10
Mexico City
Janet Membrila & David Pineda/EL UNIVERSAL
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These popsicles are made from pulque, the traditional Mexican beverage, and fruits

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On a hot afternoon, when farmers climbed the Coatepec hills in the State of Mexico, they yearned for a beverage to cool themselves. Carlos Barrón and Jesús Alegre had the idea of freezing pulque and thus “pulcaletas” were born in 2015.

This pulque popsicle was created thanks to the members of the Xochicuahuitl Association, which has 35 farmers from the State of Mexico, nine of which are in charge of the popsicles project.

The first popsicle was made with natural pulque; later on, producers made it with strawberry, guava, and mango curados (pulque made with fruit). Currently, they have over 10 flavors like xoconostle, pinion, passion fruit, apple with cranberries, and pineapple-coconut.

According to its inventors, the flavors change with the season of the year because they consider the abundance of the fruit at the moment.

Have you heard of the health benefits of pulque?

Carlos Barrón and Jesús Alegre say: “At first, they told us we were crazy, that we were making a mistake, but despite it, we said ‘Let’s try.’” They did not know what would be the process to elaborate a pulque popsicle, but they started to work in their project.

Three years before getting institutional support, they began to contact academies like the Autonomous University of Chapingo (UACh) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “We began to make pulcaletas, we made some noise and Chapingo got interested.”

They also presented the idea to the Development of Skills, Technological Innovation, and Rural Extension program, under the direction of the State of Mexico’s Farming Development Ministry, and then they received joint support from the UACh; both of them helped with facilities and machines because, at first, the farmers only had freezers at home.

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Jesús Alegre and Carlos Barrón, creators of pulcaletas - Photo: David Pineda

However, it was hard to reach their goal: “UACh professors helped us until a certain point because it took us a year to develop a formula for the popsicle. When we froze it, it was glassy or the flavor was not right,” remembers Carlos Barrón.

The Xochicuahuitl group began to make tests every eight days and then every 15 days for 11 months. Then, the popsicle master known as don Enrique, from Chimalhuacán, State of Mexico, helped them with the final touches to the formula.

Have you heard the story behind pulque?

Jesús Alegre says that there have been imitators that announce the sale of pulcaletas in their businesses, but this unique popsicle is only available at the “Pulcaletas. Artisanal Pulque Popsicles” store, located in 19 Morelos Ave and in the restaurant “Pulcata La Loba.” Both of them are located in Coatepec town.

In addition, the Pulcaletas brand is registered in the Mexican Institute of Industrial Production (IMPI), it has its own logo in the shape of an agave plant, and its creators have even won some recognitions, such as the national 2016 SERMexicano Innovando award, which recognizes those who have introduced and original product to the country.

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There are over 10 flavors of pulcaletas - Photo: David Pineda

According to the bases of the award, the winner of the first place would receive MXN $35 thousand and a recognition; nevertheless, the pulcaleta creators only got a trophy; then, the State of Mexico government promised them a van to transport their pulque popsicles and even sent them a photo, but they have not received it yet.

Despite the problems, the farmers think the popsicles are a special invention and treat it with care: “We select the best-quality and best-aged agaves. The one we use the most is the Ayotec, because of its higher quality mead used in the popsicles.”

In the curado popsicles, everything is natural: dairies, fruit, and even the dye. In addition, during the elaboration process, alcohol is eliminated, but the flavor of the beverage remains and anyone can eat it.

Have you heard of pulque made ice cream?

Alegre and Barrón have made pulcaletas known through their Facebook account Productores de Maguey Xochicuaitl “Pulcaletas,” through the promotion of media outlets, and cultural events in nearby regions, including Mexico City.

However, these popsicles are barely consumed in Coatepec; they cause more interest in “outsiders,” so now the town is visited by people from Morelos, Hidalgo, and Nuevo León.

Even people from Korea, Spain, and the U.S. have visited Coatepec, “In an event, an ambassador from China like [the popsicle] a lot and asked if there was a way to transport it,” remembers Barrón.

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The popsicles are sold in Coatepec and sent to other places in Mexico - Photo: David Pineda

Coatepec is part of a region where people grow agave. That is why Carlos Barrón explains that in a place where pulque is produced, it is common for people to prefer drinking their own beverages or buying a liter of curado for MXN $20 than buying a pulcaleta for the same price.

Despite it, he does not see it in a negative way: “No one is a prophet in his own country; it is actually better for people to come from other places because they don’t only buy the popsicle but they also visit different businesses and that helps people from the town a lot.”

Pulcaletas have a cost of MXN $17 to $20 in Coatepec, but since they are transported to other places, the price can change. Playa del Carmen, in Quintana Roo, is one of the places where the products are sent; currently, they send approximately 1,000 popsicles every fortnight.

Now, the inventors of the popsicles are looking for someone to help them move their products. They say that the State of Mexico government only helps them with the stand, boarding, and food when they go to an event, but not in other matters.

In the meanwhile, the producers of the Xochicuahuitl Association are creating more innovative foods with mead. In addition to pulcaletas, they have their own agave honey to sweeten the popsicles, bread, pulque distillate, and their latest release: apple and mazapán curado ice cream covered with chocolate.

The dream of the pulcaletas creators is to industrialize their production “to be more recognized.” They also hope to have more profits with their products and to generate works, but “the highest goal is to export the popsicles,” they both agree.

Would you like to visit pulquerías in Mexico City?

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