Monday, 14 November 2011

Pick a peck of prickly pears

Prickly pear mojito, a truly autumnal cocktail
"Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman." 

I have been foraging again, and look at the bounty I have returned with. Those prickly spines put most of us off, but when foraging, "A prick in the hand is worth two in the bush." I managed to get through four good years before summoning up the courage to tackle the fruits of the prickly pear. If done with care,not as I did, harvesting and processing prickly pear fruit will result in very little pain. Carelessness, as I discovered to my detriment will result in a whole lot of time spent picking painful spines and glochids as they are called out of your fingers. Consider this a Zen exercise in patience and attentiveness, neither virtues I have ever possessed.Once you have your prickly pear juice, you have to figure out what you are going to do with it. You can make jelly, always a popular and tasty gift, and something Casa Rosada could well introduce to its breakfast table or you can make syrup for dressings and drink recipes. Yes, there is even a recipe for prickly pear mojito.(pictured above)

Makes 1 mojito. 

1 1/2 tablespoons prickly pear syrup
6 to 8 mint leaves
juice of 1 lime (about 2 ounces)
2 ounces rum
1 to 1/2 cups cubed or crushed ice
2 ounces club soda
 

In a tall glass, place the mint leaves, lime juice and the cactus syrup. Muddle the leaves for 20 seconds to release the mint oils using either a muddleror a wooden spoon.
Add the rum, and stir.Fill the glass until 3/4 full with ice.
Top off with the club soda

 


Prickly pear syrup recipe
6 cups strained prickly pear juice
6 cups white sugar
4 tbsp. lemon juice


Wash and chop prickly pear.  Cover chopped fruit with water about 2 inches above level of fruits in pan.  Cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes.  Use cheesecloth and a colander to strain liquid from cooked prickly pear fruit.  This will make the strained juice thinner to increase production of the syrup without any decline in flavor.
Combine strained prickly pear juice and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until solution is boiling.  Once boiling add sugar and stir constantly.  Keep at a rolling boil until all of the sugar is dissolved. Then remove pan from heat.  If canning syrup, ladle into sterilized jars.  If using syrup immediately, cool syrup and store covered in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly Recipe

4 cups strained prickly pear juice
6 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 package pectin*

Wash and chop prickly pear.  Cover chopped fruit with water even with level of tunas in pan.  Cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes.  Use cheesecloth and a colander to strain liquid from cooked prickly pear fruit. 
Combine strained prickly pear juice and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until solution is boiling.  Once boiling add sugar and pectin* and stir constantly.  Continue to keep mixture at a rolling boil for ten minutes, then remove pan from heat.  If canning jelly, ladle into sterilized jars.Prickly pear jelly may take up to two weeks to gel inside the jars.  If using for fresh jelly, cool jelly and store covered in the refrigerator for up to one month.

*I used a natural pectin made from the rind of lemon and orange halves .You need to remove the whole fruit from the jam mix and then strain the juice back into the jam through a muslin bag.














5 comments:

  1. oh my god that Mojito is inspired!... I've often wondered what the prickly pear tasted like but have never been brave enough to pick... nice work my friend!

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  2. I love the fact that you go through the pain, so that we don't have to. So thoughtful!

    Just out of curiousity, apart from an appearance in the cartoon, the Jungle Book - I don't know much about prickly pears. What do they taste like?

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  3. They are so delicious a sort of meld of blackberries loganberries and blue berries.

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  4. Sounds gorgeous . . . am going to try and track some down in London . . . if you can buy ready-mashed potato then we should be able to find prickly pears!

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  5. Maybe try the turkish shops in Dalston and Newington High street?

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