Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jelly waiting to happen...

The "Blue Pad" prickly pear in the back yard is beginning to be covered with fruit, and I'm starting to work myself up to making jelly.

Over the last few years, making Prickly Pear jelly has become a tradition around here. I helped Mom make it the last few years, because she had some problems standing in front of the stove for long periods... but this year, if it's gonna get made, I'm gonna have to do it myself.

To be blunt, there's no huge rush. The fruit will actually hold on the plants through most of the winter, and they don't all ripen at once...
The fruit below illustrates various stages. The tuna on the bottom, where the bloom scar or 'eye' has turned purple, is completely ripe. Above it is a fruit that's just turning color, and at the top is one that is ripe and usable, but the green-brown eye says that in a week or two more it will build up natural sugars and juice. Right now, it would be a little bit insipid.

Luckily, we'll have a few more days of warm sun yet... we don't usually get our first freeze until January, and, if I can talk myself into it, I'll have plenty of little jars of jelly to put into homemade fruit baskets for Christmas.

Prickly Pear Jelly is a wonderful thing... what it actually tastes like depends on what exact species of opuntia you use. The ones you get at the store don't have a great full flavor, IMO, but these produce a jelly that is deep, glowing magenta in color, and taste much like raspberries and cranberries mixed together.
The pics aren't too impressive. I think the ripening fruit is probably more exciting for me than anybody else... but I was a little at a loss for a post, so there we are.
And now I have to go, as Charcoal Briquette Cat has decided that the computer chair is hers, and she's ready for her nap... she can get quite testy about these things...


  1. When I lived in the wilds of Texas I loved these plants , I found one that was gigantic it was at least 6-8 feet tall. Being in the middle of nowhere , i guess it had grown to its own desire , the fruit was so VERY sweet , I would Scoop out the goodness and mix it with water , and no matter how hot the water , or how opressive the heat , the juice would taste cool like and refreshing , almost as if it were cool of it's own accord.

    I don't think i have ever since tasted something quite so sweet.

    I do wish I could find them here in IA , but the best we seem capable of getting are the pads , over salted in a jar.

  2. LOL regarding the cat!!!

    I just bought a prickly pear cookbook that I have not tried anything out of yet. You are reminding me that I must give it a go. I noticed some old PP's by the side of the road are covered in tunas...and I have my eye on them! ;)

    Your plant and fruit look so good!!!

  3. I always learn something interesting here. Tunas and jelly, things I never would have associated with prickly pears B.C.--before Claude. Our cat Peanut is still too young to be that assertive, and she was brought up by our older cat who knew how to put her in her place.

  4. Tuna is the Mexican name for the fruit... Charcoal Briquette Cat is about 13 years old now, and cantankerous. She knows exactly what she wants and will tolerate very little nonsense.

  5. Aha! Thanks for the tuna explanation. Sounds like CBC could be my twin.

  6. I love the color of the tunas! Never knew the Mexican name. I guess I'll add this one to my collection! I like the reaction section-will it save it on the archives? The rock rose is just hanging on... lost leaves-new one come out then fall off...hope it makes it!

  7. rasberry and cranberry together sounds like a good idea ! too bad we don't get these to fuit much around here.

  8. That is one loaded cactus...really cool! Never had this jelly...may have to try!