Posted at 8:42 am , on October 10, 2019
I set aside two jars of prickly pear juice to make jelly. It reminded me of my Mom and how she used to can everything including jellies and jams in big huge canning pots. This was a much smaller scale so I found a different method to preserve the jelly by covering the sealed jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. When they cooled you could hear the lids make that popping sound that tells you they are sealed. I found some low sugar pectin which allowed me to cut down on the sugar as well as quicken the process. In no time I had a little more than 3 jars of prickly pear jelly. I couldn’t wait to taste it so I made a batch of tea scones to go with the jelly . . . absolutely delicious!
Posted at 1:24 pm , on October 9, 2019
When making the prickly pear syrup, I must confess it took two tries. I looked up recipes on pinterest and it appeared to be a simple process of mixing the prickly pear juice with water, sugar and lime juice and cooking it down to a syrup. I tried this method and although I stirred it often, it had a burned taste as if it were scorched. I tried it in my lemonade and believe me it was awful!! So I decided that the juice was the star of the show and all it needed was to be thickened into a syrup. I tried making a simple syrup first along with the lime juice and adding the prickly pear juice at the end of the process and it tasted fruity and delicious. One cup of prickly pear juice made 2 1/2 cups of syrup. I put aside the two cups into 1/2 pint jars and saved the rest. It adds a refreshing fruity taste to any tea or lemonade.
Posted at 1:50 pm , on October 8, 2019
Joe and I first tasted prickly pear jelly and syrup at the Downtown Growers Market here in Albuquerque. They were passing out samples and I loved it at first taste. You will find prickly pear cactus plants in most neighborhoods here in Albuquerque, I thought surely I would be able to find the ripened fruit in a local fruit market but so far I haven’t found any. My niece offered me the fruit aka “tuna” off her cactus and I happily took her up on her offer. So Joe and I went over with gloves and tongs and picked two bags full. It was about 6 pounds of raw fruit and made just over 6 cups of juice. I wasn’t exactly sure how to prep them but knew that the prickly splinters aka “glochids” needed to be removed. We have a small weed burner that we used to burn off the glochids. As Joe was burning them off we noticed that the fruit reacted like a roasted chile with the fruit blistering and the outer skin separating from the fruit. At that point I decided to steam them like a chile to see if that would make peeling them easier. I placed them in 3 bowls with tight lids and refrigerated them overnight. The next morning I set up my kitchen to work up the fruit. I sliced them in half and scooped out the fruit like you would an avocado. It was so easy and in no time I had a big bowl of prickly pear fruit ready to process. I pureed the fruit in a blender and strained the pulp to remove the seeds. Then I ladled the juice into 1/2 pint jars. With this juice you can make any number of things from jelly and syrup to candy or sorbet. I’ve even found pies and cheesecakes that have been flavored with this sweet nectar. I went into this as an experiment and found it a tasty adventure. This year I made jelly and syrup but next time I may try something more adventurous.