The hubs has been eying the prickly pears growing on the cacti growing all around our neighborhood. He's passively looked up various tutorials on how to pick them, prepare them, and recipes to use them in. The other day, he decided it was time to put this plan into action. We loaded a backpack with a paper bag, work gloves, and a set of long handled tongs (we used a set made for grilling), and saddled up on our bikes to cruise the neighborhood in search of these bristly little gems. We ended up not needing the gloves, as the long tongs worked perfectly. We pulled about two dozen before heading home.
To prepare them, Keith laid them on the hot grill, moving them around with the tongs. This cooks and softens the fruit, loosens the skin, and helps remove the small spines that grow in patches around the fruit.
The rest of the preparation is messy and can stain your hands, clothing, and towels, so be careful. Using some latex gloves would be a wise decision. He carefully peeled the skin, because there may still be a few remaining pricklies.
Next, he put them in a small food processor; chopping it to a fine mash.
To separate the the juice from the seeds, we put the pulp into a few layers of cheesecloth and squeezed the liquid into a small bowl. We ended up with about a cup of liquid.
We turned that into a syrup by combining this with 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar. Let the liquid come to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about twenty minutes, or until it become thick and syrupy.
We let it cool, then put it into a small mason jar to keep in the fridge. It can keep for up to two weeks. We wasted no time putting our little concoction to work. We whipped up a batch of prickly pear margaritas! We used a regular margarita recipe, and substituted a little prickly pear syrup for simple syrup. They were so good!