Pricklypear Jelly

At the Cool Water Ranch, the only crops we’ve ever succeeded in growing are those that need zero help from humans. One of these is the purple fruits (called “tunas” in Spanish) that grow on an enormous pricklypear cactus at one corner of the house. The cactus blooms with beautiful yellow flowers every Mother’s Day, and produces a few buckets of fruit in time for Thanksgiving. I found that running the fruits through a juice extractor removes all the seeds and spines. And these spines are no fun to get caught in your finger.

I make a batch of jelly with the tunas some years, and syrup in others. I never know which it will be until after it’s in the jar. The recipe is the same. Sometimes it sets, sometimes it doesn’t. I think it has something to do with taking it off the heat at exactly the right time. But since I only get one shot a year at making this, I can’t claim great skill. Fortunately, both the jelly and the syrup are good, and I go through all of it in a year.

  • 5 cups pricklypear juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 3 boxes pectin
  • 9 cups granulated sugar

1. Blend the pricklypear juice, lemon juice, apple juice and pectin together in a saucepan. Heat to a light boil, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the sugar and bring to another full rolling boil, then boil for two more minutes. Do not go past that time, or the jelly won’t set.

2. Fill the sterilized canning jars almost to the top with the liquid. Seal with new caps and process according to standard canning procedure.

Makes about a dozen six-ounce jars.

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