With a few rounds of canning under our belts, we thought we’d try something new and make prickly pear jelly. (Great thanks to my friend Brenda, who not only introduced us to this delicious jelly, but taught us this amazing juicing technique.)
We were up in Portal this week and saw that the prickly pears were perfectly ripe for picking. (There is a short window for this. Not long after they are ripe, the birds and bugs devour them. Having our own small prickly pear in the yard helped us gauge this this year.)
We picked about a half 5-gallon bucket of the fruit, which are called tunas. (For future reference, 2-1/2 gallons of tunas made about 3-1/2 quarts of juice.)
After rinsing the tunas, the next step is to load them into steam juicer. Note that I didn’t say anything about removing the stickers or seeds. That’s the beauty of a steam juicer. It has three parts. A pan of water at the bottom. A giant pot and a steamer basket that sits inside of that. The steam forces the juice out of the fruit (and into a little rubber tube that goes into your collecting vessel), leaving all the yucky part behind in the basket.
Cover and boil for awhile and then out comes the juice!
This is what’s left when you’re done. Great for composting.
The next part of the process is the whole canning thing. Boil the jars, fill, seal and boil again, etc. (How did people do this before the Internet? :)
The jelly is made with the juice, pectin, and sugar. For one batch, I also stewed some jalapenos in the juice. We’ll have to see how that comes out. (If you haven’t had jalapeno jelly with cream cheese, it is fabulous!)
Finally, into the jars.
Here’s the final product.