Sunday, 23 March 2014

A Prickly Situation

I have often read on many of the canning sites that I belong to that many canners make Prickly Pear Jelly, so I thought that I would have a go to as there were several prickly pear cactus  plants growing in our area. I did not take the photograph of the fruit on the cactus plant below ,it is an image I found online.
We picked the small pink fruits very carefully with a pair of kitchen tongs and collected them in a small plastic bucket.
Brian then scorched off the tiny fine hairs and prickles with a small portable butane torch that he had.

Once the hairs were all off,next I got a pair of gloves on and started to peel the thin papery skin off the fruit. I then separated it into three lots, scraps, seeds and meaty flesh.

I then boiled up the seeds in a large pot with water,sugar and lemon juice for about 30 minutes, strained the seeds and any remaining pulp off and was left with a lovely cordial that I canned.(I also reserved a few cupfuls to put in with the jelly/jam)
The next step was to put the fleshy fruit segments, sugar, citric acid, lemon juice, pectin  and the reserved juice  into a large pot and then I boiled it for about an hour or so until it started to jell on a cold plate. I also added the lemon halves that I had juiced for extra flavour and jelling.
When the desired jelling stage was  reached,   I removed from the  heat and skimmed the foam off the top and poured into warm preserving jars. We then water bathed these and the jars with the cordial in  my Electric water bath preserver  for 10 minutes after it had reached boiling point. After this time had elapsed I turned it off,removed the lid and let the jars sit for another 5 minutes. I then removed them and placed them on a towel covered counter overnight.

I was extremely pleased with the results. The jelly/jam set beautifully and the colour of the jam and cordial is very pretty and tasty.
I had also picked some of the cactus leaves( or paddles) and we also singed off  most of the prickles with the torch, then peeled them and sliced into strips. I had read that these are delicious  dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and deep fried or grilled or even stir fried.

We tried just dipping in egg,flour and shallow frying, but were not really impressed with the results. We were later told that the young fresh spring paddles are best and we had used older more mature ones. But we will try them again another time.
The photo below is the final products of jam/jelly and cordial. I will definately be making them again as they have nearly already been all used up.They have proven to be very popular.
There is much to do here on the farm and I really must keep moving,
so until we meet again,


  1. I love reading your blog so I've nominated you for the Liebster Award! Check it out -->

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  2. Wonderful instructions, I have wanted to try this as we have some prickly pears on our property, but didn't know where to start. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Liz,
      Good luck with them, and be careful. The effort is well worth it.

  3. Friends of mine do an old American Indian remedy and use the inside of a prickly pear leaf as a poultice for splinters or other small wounds.