Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Prepare Ripe Prickly Cactus Pears for Eating

Trying to eat prickly cactus pears can be a bit thorny and unpleasant experience!  If you have thick skin then you are in luck!!  If you have thin skin like me and you happen to get any of the fine micro needle-like spears on your hand you can get them off with a good pair of tweezers.  All you need is a little time, patience and good eye sight!  This is the main reason that prevention is the key.  If you decide not to bother handling these pears then stop reading this blog. First of all be sure to harvest the ripe fruits (in this case indicated by their red color but some are yellow) with thick leather gloves preferably without holes!  I am sure there are many ways to get to these edible fruits but this is the easiest way for me. Cut the ends off and use a sturdy skewer, chopstick or fork to pin one end vertically.  I use a metal fork since the red color stains everything bloody red!  I hold one end with the fork and the other flat on a cutting board so I don't slice my finger off; the fruit gets very slippery. Take a knife and peel off the outer layer, be sure to trim deep enough to get rid of the thorny eyes! After this I dice them into large chunks and cook them to release the juice. I strain out the juice and reserve the pulp and seeds.  For the second batch I take the reserved pulp and seeds and grind everything with 3 cups of water in my blender and cook this down.  I then strain this contents and discard the hard seeds and any remaining pulp.  I am able to produce more juice from this second batch! Since it is a lot of work involved to harvest and handle these cactus pears I want to get the most juice out of them.  There are many uses for the cactus pear juice. You can make smoothie, cactus pear limeade, jam, jello, sauce for your crepes or ice cream or whatever you want. 

red prickly cactus pears = ripe to eat
cactus pears contain many eyes with fine
micro needle-like thorns
cut the ends and use a fork to
hold the pear up
while you peel the rest of
the fruit with a knife
once the pear is peeled it looks like this
a little work but it's worth the while to peel each pear
diced fruit ready to use
(the seeds are hard, similar to guava seeds--DO NOT
bite down on these seeds or you may need to see your dentist!) 
bottles of cactus pear juice I
Cactus Pear Juice I (1st Batch)

Ingredient:

10 (plus more if you have) ripe cactus pears, peeled, washed and diced

Method:

Simmer approximately 12-15 minutes.  Strain, cool and refrigerate.

Cactus Pear Juice II (2nd Batch)

Ingredient:

Pulp and seeds from Cactus Pear Juice I (1st Batch)

Method:

1) Take the pulp and seeds, add 3 cups water and blend this.
2) Simmer the content in a pot for another 12-15 minutes.
3) Cool, strain and refrigerate.
4) Discard the seeds.

*You may add more water but this will dilute the cactus juice concentration.

Cactus Pear Syrup

Ingredients:

2 C Cactus Pear Juice II (see above)
1/2 C agave syrup (more or less depending on your sweet tooth!)

Method:

1) Take the two ingredients and simmer for about 5 minutes.
2) Cool and refrigerate until ready to use.



Here is a pretty pink color drink!  

Cactus Pear-Banana Smoothie (yields about 4 Cups or 2 servings)

Ingredients:

1 C Cactus Pear Syrup (see recipe above)
3 apple bananas (or 1 1/2 large banana)
1 C milk
3-4 ice cubes

Methods:

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

*Add some plain yogurt to this and blend if interested.
*Use juice or soy milk if are lactose intolerant.
*Add a splash of rum if interested for your happy hour.

cactus pear popsickle
*You can take the cactus pear syrup and make delicious popsicles!  Just pour the syrup in a popsicle tray and place in the freezer until frozen.

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