After a month hiatus to get married, I am back blogging here, now as Michelle L. Rusk. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting the various prickly pear recipes I've been using. But first, the question that everyone asks: how do you turn prickly pear cactus fruits into something tasty?
The photo above was taken last fall (you can tell by the sunlight that it's fall rather than summer) after we had finished picking the fruit off our cacti and two sets of neighbors' cacti (yes, we had permission!). We filled four big bowls with the fruit and they sat on the counter for a few weeks until I had time to work with them. I had read I needed to scoop out the fruit from the center of it and I set to work, buying multiple pairs of gloves at Lowe's only to stain them and find almost nothing kept the needles from penetrating onto my hands.
After I ordered The Prickly Pear Cookbook by Carolyn Niethammer, I found out I was wasting my time. I could scrape many needles off when I washed the fruit and throw them straight into the blender. After blending the fruit, running it through a strainer removed the needles and skin.
From there I froze the puree in ziploc bags.
Up next week? The syrup. And then it gets even better after that...stay tuned...