Prickly Pear Harvest

One of the many reasons I love September is that the land is full of wild fruits. And that’s saying something for our high desert grasslands. The most obvious one dotting the hillsides is the prickly pear fruit.
They are thorny and prickly, which deters many people. The methods I’ve heard about for removing the thorns include shaking them in a bucket of sand, roasting off the prickles, and boiling and straining.
Folks tend to be surprised at my super easy method for making use of this tasty fruit. There’s lots to do at harvest time, so I take the easy route. Rather than boiling and adding pectin or sugar to make jams and syrups, I just make juice. Here’s my simple method. I’m telling you now because there are still plenty fruits to harvest and make use of!
Pick the fruits that are most purple and shiny. Use tongs! Put them in the blender, yes with all the thorns. Add water- the more water you add the less slimy the juice will be. Blend. Drain the seeds and pulp through a sieve, using a spoon to push the juice through. Put the once-strained juice through the strainer again, this time just letting gravity do the straining. This is drinkable juice! It’s a little pulpy, probably more texture than you are used to for juice. But there are no thorns. You can use cheesecloth to squeeze out more juice from the pulp, or to get more pulp out from the juice. The more times you strain it, and the smaller the strainer size, the less pulpy your juice will be.
That’s it! Adding a touch of agave nectar makes it super yummy. Adding it to cocktails does the same, only more so. The spanish name for these fruits are tunas, so we have developed a cocktail named the Gin Tunic. Be creative. Enjoy, it’s Magenta.
DSCN0047Written by Amanda Bramble

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