Free Food: Prickly Pear Jelly
Pick At Your Own Risk
You will need:
One gallon of Prickly Pear fruit, rendered to 4 cups of juice
4 cups of sugar
2 packages of fruit pectin
A large pot for boiling the ingredients
A larger pot to boil the jars
Gloves and tongs
Prickly Pears are a catus with large, broad, flat, oval shaped frods, which grow wild here in North Central Texas, and other parts of the nation. They produce some very stunning flowers, then the "pears". The fruit of the prickly pear, when ripe, is a lush ruby red to deep garnet red, and are, well... prickly. They are covered with tiny, sneaky little stickers that love to invade human skin. So you will need to be cautious when harvesting this wonderful free fruit.
Gather the fruit for jelly when it is very ripe. Wear gloves and use tongs so you don't get a million stickers in your fingers and hands! You will need to put the fruit into water and using the tongs, or a long handled spoon, swish the pears around in the water until the stickers are removed.
Next cut the fruit in half, I go longways, rather than across, put them into a large pot, cover them with fresh water and boil them until they shrivel.
Drain off the water, then rinse.
Mash the shriveled fruit with a potatoe masher.
Strain the mash through a jelly bag or cheese cloth, or through a sieve. Let stand, and discard the "pulp" if you want a clear jelly. Leave it in if you want the more full bodied jelly.
Bring your Prickly Pear juice to a boil, and add the pectin, stir until dissolved.
Add the sugar and boil, stir until the sugar is dissolved and the "jelly" stage is reached.
Pour into clean jelly jars and place them UNSEALED into a pot with water about 1/4 to 1/2 way up the jar, and boil. Makes sure the boiling water doesn't bubble over into your jelly.
Remove from pot, seal your jars, let cool, and you have some pretty yummy jelly!
When making jelly, or canning any sort of produce make sure every item you use is 100% clean. Boil your jars, lids and so on, for 15 minutes to make sure you won't be sealing up any nasty little organisms with your jelly! Handle all items with clean hands, or wear disposable, plastic gloves, clean cotton gloves (pre-washed with a little bleach, then dried). Or do like the ladies of yore, and handle everything using a clean, dry cup towel. (Also pre-washed using bleach).