At the height of summer in the desert just at the time when you can fry and egg on the sidewalk, when you are sick, sick, sick of feeling like you live in a giant blow dryer, something wonderful happens: prickly pears appear.
I love to visit my mom, for many reasons of course, but when I go to Tucson in August, sometimes I get a bonus – I get to make prickly pear jelly.
Prickly pears in August are filled with tart red nectar similar to pomegranates, but here’s the thing: they’re FREE. All you do is take some tongs out to your nearest cactus plants and harvest the juicy bounty.
Years ago, I sweated all day burning and plucking off the prickles. Not now. I just pick them, chop them, boil them and then strain off the juice in a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Much easier. All you do is follow the directions for apple jelly on the box of pectin. Substitute 1 cup of prickly pear juice and one teaspoon lemon juice for each cup of apple juice in the recipe. That’s it. Really.
The best part of making jelly is at the end of the day when my counters are stacked with jars filled with liquid just beginning to gel. Such a feeling of pride and accomplishment fills my heart. And, I know I have Christmas presents galore stashed away in my cupboards. Who doesn’t love homemade jelly for Christmas?
A few other adventurous food bloggers have had adventures with prickly pears. I thought I would only find Prickly Pear Margaritas like the one at The Daily Meal. Oh No. There’s lots of adventurous stuff out there in the bloogsphere! Hank of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook made prickly pear syrup that sounds amazing on a stack of pancakes. I found prickly pear snow cones over at Bluebonnets and Brownies. Did you know prickly pears are uber healthy? I found out at Nutrition Unplugged. Prickly pear Chiffon Cake? Why Not? Check out My Kitchen Snippets. Scrumptious South Africa made Prickly Pear Granita that looks so refreshing.
What can YOU come up with in prickly pear form?
Happy End of Summer, Everyone!
— posted by Donna