Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pick a Peck of Prickly Pears

Harvested prickly pear fruits are a magenta color...careful, they prick!
There will be no pinion nuts this year around our house as they only produce a crop every three years and last year was a big one!  In the fall, something genetic makes me want to harvest and store up for the winter, so I have spent some time picking (very carefully) prickly pear fruits.  A peck is about 1/4 a bushel..or in this case a brown paper grocery sack. There are various things you can make with the fruit, but I chose to just extract the juice and freeze it for a little taste of summer sometime this winter. We have an abundance of prickly pear cactus on our property and in the surrounding National Forest lands, so I am sure the bears and coyotes won't miss the few I harvested.
Holding the fruit with tongs, cut off both ends.
Cut a slit from stem end to flower end.
Roll the fruit towards you as you cut away the skin.

Put skinned fruits into a mesh strainer over a larger bowl to catch the juice and smash them with a spoon.  With the back of the spoon, press the fruit through the mesh.  Left behind will be a large amount of seeds which can be planted if you want more prickly pears on your property.  Which I do not.
Pour juice directly into freezer containers and freeze for later, or mix it with sugar, water (vodka or tequila works as well if you prefer an adult beverage), and lemons to taste for a lovely pink lemonade.  
True Confession: I drank all the lemonade before I remembered to take a photo, so here is one from another blog, A Fanciful Twist.  If you think you want to make some prickly pear lemonade yourself, head on over there for much more detailed instructions.  Wish I had found this blog before I started in on my project.  I phoned a friend for advice and did pretty well, but one thing I did not learn was that you can take a lighter or propane torch and burn off the fine stickers before peeling so it is not so hazardous.  Next time!

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