Prickly Pear Jelly
August 18, 2007
So there's this cactus in my front yard. A prickly pear cactus, to be precise and differentiate it from all of the other cacti in the yard. I happen to love prickly pear things, like jelly and candy and iced tea.
The local hummingbirds are starting to indicate that the fruit is ripe - apparently the bright red colour really attracts them. So I have distracted them with pure sugar water.
Apparently you can tell the fruit is ripe when most of the spines have dropped off, and it twists easily away from the plant.
I picked the first few, and then tricked the boys into doing all of the work.
Markus is a fast worker - he managed to fill the gallon pot in just a few minutes!
The next step is to place the fruit in warm water, and then swish them around until most of the spines drop off.
The slowest part of the job is individually scrubbing and rinsing each piece of fruit, to get any remaining spines and dirt off.
The fruit then slices easily in half. They look a little like mini pomegranates, don't they?
Prickly pear fruit, which are apparently called "tuna" for no reason that makes sense to me, stink to high heaven while being cut. But the juice is a pretty colour! I think these are actually about a week shy of perfectly ripe, so I'm planning another batch in a couple of weeks.
Once all the fruit are cut, you cover them with a little bit of water and boil for about twenty-five minutes, then mash them to make sure you get as much juice as possible. It is still very stinky, but sweet to taste.
From a gallon of fruit, we got about six cups of juice - enough for two small batches of jelly.
Here it is, my first ever attempt at making jelly. A little cloudy, but pretty... and actually quite tasty. Go me! :)