Follow along on my journey. 'Ive never used prickly pear, but its a plentiful resource. My goal is a lightly flavored water, similar to a gatorade. I will have questions, and if you see me doing something that can be improved, please speak up. One question (if it tastes good) is can i can it? Water bath or pressure?
So here's the start. Half a pot of of prickly pears.
I saw this method on youtube for a guy making jelly. Hold the pears over a weedburner to burn off the pricklies. A camp style rocket stove is coming soon and i see no reason why it wouldnt work.
It seemed that grabbing end to end was the best method. When i grabbed in the middle i covered some pricklies with the tong. I had to set it back down and grab again in a different spot, burning it twice. End to end i burned it, flipped it over, burned it and i was done.
It was interesting that the heat pushed some juice out. You can see this in the pot i dropped it in.
This post catches me up to real time. I covered the pears with rainwater and am simmering them to draw the juice into the water. I dont want a real heavy fruit taste. Once the juice is collected it may be watered down more. I dont have a plan except "adjust to taste"
Looks tasty. Looks like you burned the spines off also. I thought about wine , but i use the mustang grapes for that. When i tried juicing the grapes it didnt turn out well. It was mucousy if that makes sense.it goes away as wine. I have hi hopes that this will fill my niche.
My grandmother used to make lots of prickly pear jelly every summer. She just tossed the whole fruits into a big stock pot and mashed them down as they simmered. When they were cooked, she poured off the juice and strained it through cheesecloth to catch all the prickly bits.
There are better ways to extract the juice than what i am doing. Some links showed mixing the whole fruit in a blender with water and straining. Anyways, i ended up squeezing each friut through a lemon juicer since so much juice was still in there. I then strained the juice through my kombuchu jar. There was very little residue strained out.
The bad news, i didnt care for the taste at all. I think Anne Miller, in our wild harvesting thread, described it as cucumber and watermelon flavored. She was spot on. I had a cucumber gatorade and wondered why they even made that flavor.
So, i have some work to do. I am unsure i can reach my goal but im not giving up. Super dilute. A little sugar. A sprinkle of lemon juice. Thats what im thinking. Gonna have to try very small batches til i get a recipe.
Wayne, thanks for sharing. Your pictures are amazing.
Since you say "My goal is a lightly flavored water, similar to a gatorade." Maybe you could add something to make it taste better. Would adding some of the grape juice make it more interesting? I have not tasted mustang grapes.
If you were making jelly, the sugar would probably improve the flavor.
Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines.
Everyone learns what works by learning what doesn't work.
I took a 1/4 gallon of the juice, added water to make 1 gallon. Added 2 lemons, 1 orange, simple syrup and a little salt. Tasted ok. Gonna let it chill and taste again. With that dilution rate, I'll end up w 5 gallons or more.
I may add mustang grape juice next season Anne. The wine is so good it needs nothing else.
Update. ive been playing water boy (adam sandler) with this. Adding, tasting, overthinking ...
I came in from the heat, took one of these jars out of the fridge, and chugged it down. It did its job. There's a slight cucumber after taste, but it doesn't come thru while im drinking it. Im gonna call this done.
Next step is to duplicate this with all the juice, and water bath it in Mason jars. I'll keep a couple in the fridge at all times for instant hydration.
Im also adding in some of the seawater after i harvest the salt from it. This should be very mineral rich and will be a goid additive to this. Salt is the first thing to reappear in salt water. I dehydrate it till the salt appears. The remaining water contains the other minerals.
It is interesting how my recent projects have come full circle. Here's my salt thread: