Friday, July 23, 2010

Canning Tuna?

Aha! I hooked you. (excuse the pun) I'm not talking about the fish, I'm talking about the prickly pear cactus fruit.  In Spanish, it's called tuna. Anyway, I was at the Latin market, and they were having a sale on the fruits.  It was something like 8 for a buck, so I bought 8 red and 8 green.    The photo shows what the fruit looks like.  I forgot to save one of the reds to show you intact, but it pretty much looks like the green, but with a reddish blush.  The real difference is the meat inside.  Yes, it really is a fluorescent pink color. I decided to make Prickly Pear Jelly, because DH said his mom used to and he really liked it.  I personally had never had it, but I thought why not try. Thankfully, the spines were already off the fruit.  I have heard you can burn them off with a lighter, but I would just as soon have someone else do it for me.

I found a recipe that I more or less followed.

Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly

2 1/2 cups prickly pear cactus juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
5 cups sugar
1 box of powdered pectin (18 teaspoons-note that not all pectin brands contain the same amount in a box, so measure it out to make sure)

Hard boil cactus fruit juice, pectin and lemon juice for 3 minutes. Add sugar and bring back to a hard boil for 2 minutes or until the jell point is reached.

Put in canning jars, seal and heat process for 10 minutes.

To get the cactus juice, I quartered the fruit and tossed them in a pot with just enough water to cover them.  I boiled them until the meat and seeds were sliding off the skins.

I probably boiled it for about 15 minutes.  The water turned an attractive pink color. At that point, I used a jelly bag set over a bowl to strain the meat from the juice.

All together it made about 8 cups of juice.  I added about 3/4 cup of lemon juice to the pear juice and put it back on the stove.  I mixed up the package of calcium water from the Pomona Pectin package and  added that to the pan.  I brought the entire mixture to a boil.  I used an entire package of pectin mixed into 4 cups of sugar and added that to the boiling mixture.  I stirred to dissolve the sugar and reduce the liquid.  It started to jell fairly quickly, so I  cooked it for maybe another 5-7 minutes.  I sampled the taste to see if it was sweet enough and it wasn't too sweet.  The flavor of the cactus came through nicely.  I bottled it and canned in a BWB for 10 minutes.

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