Prickly pear jelly is a sweet and tangy spread made from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus.
It has a unique flavor that is both sweet and tart, making it a great addition to toast, pancakes, and even as a glaze for meats.
While prickly pear jelly may seem exotic and hard to make, it’s actually quite simple to prepare at home.
In this article, we’ll explore the history of prickly pear jelly, the ingredients you’ll need to make it, and the best recipe for a delicious and flavorful jelly.
Prickly pear cactus, also known as Opuntia, is native to the Americas and has been used by indigenous people for thousands of years for food, medicine, and even as a dye.
Prickly pear jelly has a long history in the southwestern United States and Mexico, where the cactus grows abundantly.
The fruit is harvested in the late summer and early fall when it’s ripe and juicy, and the juice is then used to make the jelly.
To make prickly pear jelly, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- 5 cups of prickly pear juice
- 7 cups of granulated sugar
- 1 package of pectin
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp of butter
It’s important to note that harvesting prickly pears can be dangerous due to the cactus’ spines, so it’s recommended to purchase pre-made prickly pear juice or wear thick gloves and use tongs to handle the fruit.
- In a large pot, combine the prickly pear juice, lemon juice, and pectin. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Add the sugar and butter to the pot, stirring constantly until the mixture returns to a boil.
- Continue stirring and boil the mixture for one minute.
- Remove the pot from the heat and skim off any foam that forms on top.
- Ladle the hot jelly into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.
- Wipe the rims of the jars clean and seal with sterilized lids and rings.
- Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
- Remove the jars from the water and let them cool to room temperature.
- Store the jars in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
- Be sure to use gloves and tongs when handling prickly pears to avoid getting pricked by their spines.
- Make sure to sterilize your jars, lids, and rings before using them to prevent contamination.
- Adding a little bit of butter to the mixture helps reduce foam and makes for a clearer jelly.
- Use a candy thermometer to ensure the mixture reaches 220°F before removing from heat for optimal gelling.
Prickly pear jelly can be served as a spread on toast or bagels, or as a glaze for meats like pork or chicken.
It can also be used as a topping for ice cream or mixed into cocktails for a unique twist.
Can I use fresh prickly pears instead of pre-made juice?
Yes, you can use fresh prickly pears to make your own juice.
However, it’s important to wear gloves and use tongs to avoid getting pricked by the cactus spines.
How long will prickly pear jelly last?
Properly canned and stored prickly pear jelly can last up to a year.
Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe?
The amount of sugar is necessary for the jelly to gel properly, so it’s not recommended to reduce the amount.