It’s Prickly…..Prickly Pear Cactus Jam !!

If you have ever lived in Texas or the Southwest US, you are familiar with prickly pear cactus.   They are also prolific in South Africa, which totally surprised me….thought I had been transported.   They have beautiful yellow blooms in spring and then these bright magenta pods form….called ‘tunas’.    In a place where everything is brownish, they really stand out….and they are edible, in fact….delicioso !!!   I stopped by my favorite Mexican grocery store, which is a very small, cramped space where you can get any & everything you could get in Mexico.   There is Mexican chocolate, more types of peppers than I knew existed, raw sugar cones (piloncillos), rows of canned goods, dried beans, rice, mole AND fresh produce….everything brought in from Mexico to the East Coast.   They have a little cafe in back and at lunch there are crates of tortas & tacos taken out to the construction workers in the area.   And there amongst the limes, radishes, yucca, nopale (cactus paddles) & plantains.   And they had ‘tunas’, too, which  turn a brownish-purple when ripe.    Amazingly, the juice is the bright magenta color & has a light sweetness which haunts.    I’ve seen people cut them with a pocket knife & eat them on the streets in Mexico,  but I would ruin my clothes since they are very juicy when ripe and the bright pink juice stains.

Lucky for me, friends send me commercial prickly pear syrup and puree….you see, I love Prickly Pear Margaritas….oh yeah !!  I have found a restaurant that serves them, as well as Spicy Hot Margaritas, but it is so nice to make one & sit on the deck after a really hot day.  I decided to make Prickly Pear-Habanero Jam,  which would also work on soft cheese for an appetizer & over ice cream, too.

This was one of my no-recipe, cook to taste, spur of the moment creations.    It is adapted from a Rick Bayless recipe published in 1996.

Prickly Pear Habanero Jam

Makes 1 cup

Peel 2 prickly pear tunas.   Chop in bowl & mash with back of fork.    Add 4 T sugar & juice of 1/2 lime.   Stir in 1/3 c. water & put in non-reactive sauce pan.   Add 1 habanero with several slits or you can seed the pepper, if you like.    Boil until reduced and slightly thickened.   Add a splash of GrandMarnier, Cassis or Chambord & 1 tsp. pectin.   Stir with a metal whisk for 1 minute to dissolve pectin, while bringing sauce to a rolling boil for about 3 min.    Remove from heat & allow to cool.   Taste frequently on the ‘heat level’ as the habanero will seep it’s oil quickly.   Remove when sauce is the right heat for you.

Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator  or you can freeze for up to a year.   This sauce is frequently used over fish, pork or chicken as well as a dessert sauce.

Serve on cheese, with desserts or drizzle in soda water or lemon-limeade for instant refreshment.   You can also mix with cocktails, particularly tequila or any pomegranate drink.       Buenos Dios !!

About Pat Thomas

I love what food brings to our lives other than the needed nutrition. I share all my foodie experiments with friends & family. Thankfully they are usually delighted but always kind with whatever I've cooked up.
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1 Response to It’s Prickly…..Prickly Pear Cactus Jam !!

  1. Pingback: Ensalada de Nopal – Cactus Salad « PsyKdeliaSmith's Kitchen

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