- Preparation Time: 45 minutes
- Cooking Time: 80 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
- Servings: 40 servings
- Yield: 5 1/2-pint jars
Discover the incredible potential of the prickly pear cactus! Hardy enough to withstand even the coldest winters, this plant produces an abundance of delicious fruit. And don’t let the name fool you – while handling the fruit can be a bit tricky and potentially hazardous, the end result is well worth the effort.
The vibrant color and exquisite taste of prickly pear jelly make it a true delicacy. Though it does require some work, the final product is so good that it can be refrigerated for up to six months or canned and stored for up to a year.
If you’ve never encountered prickly pears before, be prepared for their tiny prickles that can be a bit of a nuisance. But fear not, we have tips to help you handle them safely.
If you don’t have access to fresh prickly pears, you can sometimes find cleaned fruit available for purchase in late summer. However, if you’re up for an adventure, we’ll guide you on how to pick the fruit straight from the cactus.
Before you get started, make sure you have the necessary tools: a 16-ounce/500 mL plastic water bottle, sturdy gloves, tongs, kitchen tweezers (similar to the ones used for cleaning salmon), a sharp paring knife, a food sieve, and jars with lids for refrigerating or specialized jars for canning.
What ingredients will be needed for this recipe:
- 40 to 50 prickly pears
- 7 cups of granulated sugar
- 10 teaspoons of lemon juice, made from organic lemons
- Peels from 5 organic lemon halves
Easy Steps to Make Prickly Pear Jelly
Safely Harvest and Prepare Prickly Pear Fruit
- Gather prickly pear fruit without getting pricked by using a cut plastic beverage bottle. Carefully detach the fruit from the plant by twisting and bending the bottle around it. Drop the fruit directly into a sturdy bag or container.
- Use tongs to remove each prickly pear from your collection.
- Remove thorns by holding each fruit over a gas stove flame or using a lighter, hot coals, or a gas grill. Rotate the fruit to ensure all sides are touched by the flame. Once done, place the pears in a bowl and repeat with the remaining fruit.
- Cut off the ends of the prickly pears using a paring knife. Peel the fruit, being cautious of the heat.
- Chop the seedy pulp into 1-inch chunks.
Cook the Jelly
- In a large pot, cook chopped prickly pear pulp over medium heat for 20 minutes until it turns into a soupy stew.
- Strain the simmered pulp using a food mill or sieve, pressing it with a spoon or using gloves.
- Measure the strained liquid and pulp, then add sugar, lemon juice, and lemon peel to taste.
- Return the liquid to the pot and cook over high heat until the jelly reaches gel point, stirring frequently for 40-60 minutes.
- Remove lemon peels from the mixture.
- Scoop the prickly pear jelly into clean jars, seal them, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. No need to sterilize the jars with this method.
How to Measure Ingredients Accurately
When juicing pears, it’s important to note that the amount of juice and pulp you get can vary based on the size of the fruit.
To ensure the right flavor and consistency, follow these guidelines:
- For every cup of prickly pear liquid obtained through a sieve, add 3/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
- If you want a good gel texture, include the peel (including the white, pithy part) of half a lemon for every 2 cups of prickly pear liquid.
It’s worth noting that our recipe provides measurements in excess, so you may end up with more than you need. Enjoy the flexibility!
How to Extend the Life of Your Jelly
Increase the longevity of your jelly by following this straightforward method. First, pour the jelly into sterilized jars. Then, immerse the jars in a boiling water bath for a mere 5 minutes. The greatest benefit of this approach is that the jelly can be safely stored at room temperature on a shelf until it is ready to be enjoyed. However, it is worth noting that on rare occasions, prickly pear jelly may undergo separation and transform into an unpleasantly bitter goop during the processing stage.
Get ready to embark on a prickly pear jelly-making journey that will leave your taste buds craving more!