Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Prickly Pear Processing

As I said in my last post, we were trying two different techniques for processing the prickly pears. Tasha told me that you have to do something with them within a couple of days or else they start to ferment. We could only fit about half of them in the freezer, so we had to do something else with the others.
Chris read that you can use a blender to process them. To me this sounded like a huge mess. The seeds would be ground into the pulp, the skin, the blender would be filled with spines, etc. etc...
I was wrong. Wrong.

Putting the prickly pears in the blender was a great idea. The seeds are so hard that they don't blend, the skin stays intact but in pieces, and the pears just sort of burst and liquify with very little effort. Once they've been blended up you have to put the pulp through a strainer. Chris used a little whisk to gently move the pulp around so the liquid could seep through.

The juice is thick, so it takes some time and effort to get through. Once you have the juice in the bowl, you probably want to put it through cheesecloth to make sure all those tiny spines are out.

The juice can go into the freezer for use in several yummy concoctions, most of which I learned about from my very creative and kitchen-savvy friend Tasha.
She makes prickly pear margaritas, puts it over ice cream, and I'm sure has several other good uses. For her wedding they even made prickly pear Horchata (a Mexican milky rice drink) that was quite a treat.
The half of the pears that we froze was place in a large pot that has a steamer at the top. We put cheesecloth under the steamer basket, and let the juice seep down as they melted.

It actually worked pretty well. I think the first method yielded the most juice, but if you're going for ease, the freezing method is a good one.


Chris said...

I think the ease of the freezing method seemed so simple, I love the flavor of it as well. So awesome, so cool, just like you!

natasha said...

Ha! So the blender method worked?!? I'm amazed and impressed - and can't wait to try it myself! Save the prickly pear skins and dry them out for making hot or iced tea. Yum yum yum. And yum.