Monday, October 1, 2012

Prickly Pear Jelly!

OK cowboys and cowgirls... Here's one for you brave souls out there! We're talkin' high adventure in cookin' here. Yep! Prickly Pear Jelly.

At first I figured this recipe wouldn't work for you folks back east, but according to good ol' Wikipedia you can find prickly pear cactus throughout the Western United States, as well as many parts of the northwest, northeast, Great Plains, heck they even can be found in New England, wherever the heck that might be! Here's a link for you, if you want to read all about this cactus.

Here's what it looks like out in the Wild West!

As far as International availability, you can pick prickly pear fruit in the Galapagos Islands, North Africa and down-under in Australia. So I guess you're in luck!

So first things first... get yourself some fruit off of the prickly pear cactus, wherever that takes you. Be careful picking them too, cause they're covered with little tiny stickers, you know... stickers, as in little tiny thorns. They hurt too. I'm not gonna bother to show you pictures of prickly pear pickin', or help you find the cactus. I figure if you really want to make prickly pear jelly, then you'll figure out where to find them and how to pick them. I will give you one piece of advice though... wear gloves and use tongs to pick them (oops, that's two).

I got mine from my bro. He picked them for me near his ranch up by Roosevelt Lake... that's in Arizona. Thanks bro! I'll bring you a jar of jelly.

So you're gonna need sugar, pectin, cheese cloth and of course, prickly pears... the fruit from the prickly pear cactus, also lemon juice, but I forgot to get it in the picture, so I'll show it to you later.

Start by putting on a pair of leather gloves, then rub the pears with a cloth. The tiny clusters of thorns (which appear as white spots here) will rub off easily. I held the fruit over a cardboard box while I rubbed them.

Next I cut the ends off of the fruit, and then sliced them in half.

Here's 20 pears sliced in half in a large stock pot. Next up... water.

It took nine cups of water to cover this amount of fruit.


Bring the water to a boil and let it cook until the fruit is softened and you get all of the juice out of your fruit. This will probably take a good 30 minutes.

Then pour it thru a strainer lined with the cheese cloth. I also put a paper towel between the layers of cheese cloth just to make sure I didn't get any solids or stickers in my strained juice.

Prickly pear juice is plum purdy, aint it?

Remember the lemon juice?

Strain it and pour it into the pear juice.

Add the pectin. I used two packages. Sorry 'bout the blurry pic. I'm still learning.

Sugar goes in next... I used 7 and 1/2 cups.

Then boil and stir... boil and stir boys and girls. When you think you're done, then boil and stir some more. After a while the syrup will begin to run off of your spoon slower as it thickens.

Then pour it in the jars. I forgot to tell you to prepare your jars by either boilin' the heck out of them in a big pot, or do what I do... put 'em in the microwave and nuke them for at least ten minutes to kill all of the bugs and stuff. Then like I said, pour your jelly into the hot jars.

Put the lids on them.

That's prickly pear jelly!

Ummm! It's tangy and sweet!

Here's the recipe, all written out neat and organized for ya!

Prickly Pear Jelly
20 pieces of prickly pear fruit
9 cups of water
7-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup strained lemon juice
2 packages pectin

Clean and slice the prickly pear fruit. Place in a large stock pot and cover with the water. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for about 30 minutes until the fruit is softened. Strain the juice. You should end up with five or six cups of strained juice. Place this in a pot and add lemon juice, stir, then add pectin, stir again, then add sugar. Bring juice to a boil and continue on medium heat until the juice thickens to syrup stage. Test by dripping syrup off of spoon. Pour into sterilized jars, place lids on jars. Listen for jar lids to pop to insure proper seal. Should make about 5 pints. Jelly will continue to set for another day or two.

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