In the back of my mind, I always wanted to make prickly pear something. I thought jam would be lovely. I never really thought about a summer drink because, well I have never been a huge sweet drink person (I am a water and lemon sorta girl). But this summer, mint tea and lemonade have been so enjoyable, I decided to plunge into prickly pear lemonade. It is made from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus...
To be honest, I also just wanted to know how to extract the juice of the fruit.
I have this idea in the back of my mind, where I want to learn how to use everything native to me. Learn how to survive just in case of...
In doing research about eating cacti and its fruit, your brain starts to open up real wide, realizing that even in the desert, there is a wealth of edibles that the earth gifts to you.
So, I just have this thing in me, that has always been a part of me, where I like to learn how to do all sorts of things.
That's probably why I dabble in lots of this or that. I might not be good at everything, but I do like to try things out.
So, where was I?
Ah yes, prickly pear lemonade.
How does one attain a glass of such a concoction?
Let us find out, shall we?
On our property we have a massive ridiculous amount of prickly pear cactus.
Who knew it was all edible, pads too?
Well, I knew just from living here.
But I never ate any of it myself.
Some prickly pear fruits (also known as tuna in Mexico) have deep orange fruits, others have bright purple/fuchsia fruits.
I chose the bright purple ones.
This is a tale of me winging the prickly pear process with limited knowledge.
Although, I did google here and there.
It begins with the prickly pear cactus itself, as you see below.
I didn't know how people harvested the fruits, as they are covered in spines.
So I thought, hey, tongs could work.
And they did.
I plucked them right off and popped them into a container with fresh cool water.
This may or may not aid in making the skin even easier to peel off.
Closer to sipping, yes.
The goal is to remove the skins without touching them or contaminating anything with spines.
A sharp easy to handle knife and fork work really well.
What I did was sat the little fruit on the table like an egg, with the smallest end facing up.
Then I turned it on its side, sliced the bottom off, and sliced a thin line from top to bottom on one side, not too deep into the flesh.
Then you just wedge your fork in and roll the skin off.
Voila, the fruit is inside.
Yep, a nugget of fruit inside.
If my description of removing the skin makes no sense -
Then feel free to watch this video right here.
I do not know the person who made the video, but thanks to him!
(bonus - the video background music is Eiffel 65 which reminds me of my 20's, love it)
You will see step by step, how to extract the fruit in the center.
But what does it taste like you ask?
I have decided, the closest description is watermelon.
Not exactly, but somewhat.
It is sweet and lovely.
Also, some of my pears were too ripe, like below, so I just scooped the fruit centers out with my fingertips. As you can tell, they are FULL of seeds.
One of the steps will be removing the seeds.
So here we go...
I removed the skins of about 45 prickly pears.
Then I just used a bowl, and put a sieve with a handle over it.
Like you see below.
Then I popped some of the fruit into the sieve and mashed it with my fist until all the juice was pushed through.
This is the process of extracting the juice.
I did this about 5 times, and got GOBS of seeds.
Which you can simply discard.
I now had a bowl with about 3 cups of prickly pear juice.
Fresh, raw, healthy - pure goodness.
So good for you.
Now for the lemonade part.
I wanted a large pitcher of prickly pear lemonade, so here is what I whipped up.
Vanessa's own Concoction for Prickly Pear Lemonade:
4 cups water
Juice of 4 large lemons
1 cup granulated sugar
2.5 cups prickly pear juice (about 40 fruits)
I put my prickly pear juice in a bowl in the fridge overnight.
This is not necessary, but it was nice to have cold juice to use the next day.
I took a bowl, put in 4 cups luke warm water, and the juice of 4 large lemons.
Then I put in 1 cup of sugar.
(I actually started with a 1/2 cup of sugar and worked my way up until it tasted right)
Whisked until sugar was dissolved.
(you can try honey or agave nectar, or other sweeteners to your liking)
Then I poured in the prickly pear juice, and whisked again.
Good for you.
And surprisingly amazingly delicious in every way.
Like, really delicious.
And you can actually taste the prickly pear.
Meaning that, the lemons did not take away from the flavor at all, which is why I only used 4.
Icy cold drink on a hot day.
I am sure you can make delightful cocktails with it too.
There are lots of recipe on-line, such as here.
Prickly pear margaritas or a splash of vodka to booze it up a little if you like that?
Confession, we are boring. We don't ever drink alcohol.
(Lovee hates the taste of the stuff)
I know, we are such prudes, haha.
Not intentionally though.
I did drink during my younger dancing all night and partying days, but alcohol always made me sooo violently sick. I don't know why.
So, one day I just never had it again.
But I keep good stuff on hand for friends, and love mixing drinks.
A tiny splash at a little get together wouldn't do me in.
Anyhow, point is - you can use the prickly pear lemonade recipe with a little vodka if you want to serve some adult beverages :)
But, it's beyond delicious just as is.
Prickly Pear Lemonade...
It's lovely stuff, I am telling you.
It was worth all the work to extract the juice, really.
So, there you have it...
I have to go play now...
You see, we are being gifted the most unusual weather.
As you know, rain.
And clouds, two days of clouds and no sun, hoooray!
Monsoons are usually in the afternoon, an hour or so, and then the sun comes back out.
Not all day rains.
Or night rains, like we have had.
For 2 days it has been all rain and drizzle.
It's like, the weather got lost or is in the wrong town.
Lovee hates it, I LOVE IT.
He asks, "so, umm, Dovee, you happy about the weather?"
OH YES!!! I exclaim as I run barefoot in cool rain and mud.
I even make my neighbor across the way meet me in a deep crystal clear huge pond puddle while it's pouring, and we get soaked to the bone.
It was grand.
This hasn't happened in ages upon ages.
I am a happy camper.
Although, lots of baby pumpkins are rotting on the moist earth, so I have to turn them over and over.
This is unusual to this dry land.
A pumpkin rotting from too much moisture is unheard of here.
I have never seen such summer rain in my 10+ years of this country place.
If you need rain, I am hoping and wishing on stars for you too.
Nothing like rain in a place that hasn't had it in forever.
ps: I heard that one of my neighbors down the bend made 5 gallons of prickly pear wine. Interesting right? I will ask him about it.