Well, it's that time of year again. The pears on the cactus have turned a pretty shade of magenta.
I sent the young'uns out this morning to get me a few pails full. They picked the darkest, biggest ones, perfect for making jelly. I browsed around looking for a better recipe than the one I used last year, that just made syrup. I found this:
What you need: 2 ½ cups of prickly pear juice, 3 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice, 1 package powdered pectin, 3 ½ cups sugar.
What you do: You’ll need about a full quart of the berries to make the 2 ½ cups of juice. Pluck them from the cactus plants using tongs. Torch the small clusters of spines off of them using a pencil torch, then scrub them underwater with a old toothbrush. Steam in a pan until fruit is tender and soft, then run through a manually operated food mill. For extra clear jelly, run the liquid through a cheese cloth, jelly bag or fine sieve to remove all sediment. In a saucepan, add juice and pectin. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add lemon or lime juice and sugar. Bring to a hard boil that cannot be stirred down, and continue to boil for another three minutes. Remove from heat, skim and pour into half-pint jars leaving a quarter inch of head space in each jar. Wipe jar rims and seal lids. Process for ten minutes in a boiling water bath. You should have six of the half-pint jars of jelly.
It worked amazingly well, and the jelly came out the right consistency. I think the lemon juice works and tastes a lot better than using lime juice. Duct tape works well for ripping out the microscopic spines that seem to make their way to that tender spot between your fingers.
Well, I have to run and wash the many sticky dishes.