I have this beautiful prickly pear cactus out in front of my house. Luckily it survived the deep freeze we had this past winter and this spring it was covered in blossoms. All summer I have been watching the green fruit and finally in the past month they have ripened.
There are a couple of reasons these beautiful fruit appeal to me. The first is because I think making jelly from them would be fun. The other is that they make a lovely dye. I don’t have enough of the fruit, also called tunas, to do both. So I asked my husband what he thought and he really wanted jam. Bummer on the dye project. Then our friend offered to let me pick his tunas and I have enough for both projects. YAY!
This weekend just working with mine, I started the process of making jelly. After reading several sites on this I was given two methods for getting the spines off the fruit. First, pick the fruit with tongs! Then you can either burn off the spines over your gas range… a long and tedious process, or you can scrub them under water. As I mentioned the fire was tedious so I switched… shortly there after my hands were covered in tines even in gloves. My determination, there is really no good way to remove the tines… at this point I was not sure the jelly would be worth the effort. Luckily for me I had enough of the fruit that I ended up with almost 12 cups of juice. To make the juice, you put the tunas in a pot with water to cover and simmer them for 20 min. After 10 you can smash them with a potato masher. Once you have finished simmering the fruit/juice mixture you treat it like you would for any jelly. This requires either a jelly bag, or straining the mixture. I opted to strain the mixture through a muslin dish towel as I would for preparing dye. It worked great. After this I was tired and had no desire to make the jelly and I was out of jelly jars. So I put the juice in jars in the fridge for a day when I had time.
Today was that day. I found several sites that gave recipes for the jelly. I finally settled on the following:
- 4 cups juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 6 cups sugar
- 1 box pectin (I used the new ball canister and used 6 TBL pectin)
I am glad that I added extra jars and lids to the hot water bath because it made 8 cups of jelly!!! I was unsure after tasting the juice whether I would like the jelly or not. When the family tried a sample they all raved and asked for more. So It looks like my house is the place to get your prickly pear jelly this year as I have two more jars of juice in the fridge…. off to buy more jars.