Sunday, January 6, 2013

Prickly Pear Syrup

Prickly pear fruit
Prickly pear cacti is native to the Americas.  While not exactly Italian, I share this in the spirit of slow food. 

In the Southern Californian winter, prickly pear cactus fruit become ripe.  On a recent hike, we decided to harvest about 2 pounds of fruit.  Picking this stuff is tricky, especially with kids.  We used a couple of sticks but there must be some better implement.

Skinned prickly pear fruit
Then comes the laborious task of skinning them!  Some recipes call for skinning while others say to throw the whole fruit in the blender and then just strain through an old t-shirt or cheese cloth.  I decided to skin them.

Prickly pear syrup simmering
All that work is worth it.  After adding some water, sugar, mint, cinnamon, and vanilla, it becomes a deeply raspberry colored thick liquid that you boil for 20 minutes or so.  It's absolutely delicious over pancakes, fruit, or, even better, added to margaritas. 

If you are able to refrain from eating the whole batch at once, you can pour the syrup into ice cube trays and freeze it for future use.

I cannot attest to the freezing method...