This recipe is a collaborative effort between my husband and son. Our family loves prickly pears, also known as cactus fruit, and we eat them often during the summer months. Right now they are plentiful and inexpensive in the Mexican markets. My husband adapted the recipe for prickly pear syrup from Hank Shaw’s Hunt, Gather, Cook. You can use the syrup for pancakes or waffles, or even for sorbet. To make prickly pear lemonade, you will need 1 cup of syrup. My teenage son makes delicious lemonade, mixing lemons and Mexican sweet limes, then takes his Dad’s prickly pear syrup and mixes it with his fresh lemonade for a delicious summer drink. If you are looking for something new for your Labor Day celebration consider prickly pear lemonade.
Prickly Pear Syrup & Lemonade
Prickly Pear Syrup
15 large red prickly pears, peeled (you can use green ones, too)
4 c. prickly pear juice from puréed fruit
4 c. sugar
1 tsp. citric acid (or more to taste)
Begin by filling a water bath canner with water and bring to a boil. Sterilize 5 (half pint) jars. Place lids in a small saucepan covered with water and bring to a boil when ready to process jars. Wash prickly pears, slice off top and bottom, then make a shallow slice down through the skin and peel it off. (Watch out for tiny prickles on the skin; you may want to use gloves.) Rough chop peeled prickly pears (they have rock-hard seeds, but these will separate out when you strain the purée) and place in a food processor. Purée until smooth, then strain through a sieve (the juice has body, so this may take some time). Strain a second time. You should have 4 cups of juice. Pour the strained juice into a heavy bottom pot. Add sugar and slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes, but don’t boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes or so until it has cooled down some. Add citric acid to taste, and stir. Pour into sterilized jars, wipe the rims with a damp paper towel, screw on sterilized lids. Water bath for 15 minutes at high altitude, 10 minutes at sea level. Makes 5 (half pint) jars.
Fresh Prickly Pear Lemonade
5 extra large lemons (or 7 regular-size lemons)
4 Mexican sweet limes or Key limes
1-1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. boiling water
5 c. cold water
1 c. prickly pear syrup
Begin by squeezing the juice from the lemons. Squeeze the limes and add lime juice to the lemon juice. You want 1 cup citrus juice. In a large pitcher combine sugar and boiling water. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon and lime juice. Stir to mix. Add 5 c. cold water. Stir, then add prickly pear syrup. Stir to combine. Chill several hours until cold. Makes 8-10 servings.