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Monday, August 25, 2008

pick a peck of prickly pear


A few months ago I experienced my first prickly pear margarita in San Antonio with a friend who was visiting from Ohio. As we sat on the riverwalk, we both savored the flavor of the best margarita this side of the Mexico border.
Afterwards, she sent me a surprise - a bottle of prickly pear syrup bought on the internets. So I've been able to enjoy, and share these marvelous margaritas with friends.


Yesterday, as on many afternoons, SAM and I went for a walk along the wooded trails behind our property. There are fields and fields of prickly pear cactus. Their fruit are turning purple. I've been hatching the idea to pick a few and take a stab at making my own prickly pear syrup.


But how? I've never even held one of those purple pods in my hand. When to pick? When is the peak ripeness of a purple prickly pear pod? How to get the pulp out without ending up with prickly fingers? How many pods do I need to make one margarita? How many pears does Peter Piper need to pick?


I don't know the answers to any of these questions. But I'm making it my (procrastination task of the day) quest. Insurance claims and therapy paychecks be damned!

At this stage I've learned that the pulp of the prickly pear is nutritious, containing lots of Vitamin C.

And that it can be used as a laxative and as a first aid salve, similar to aloe vera. But I haven't learned how to make the syrup.


Wikihow says to make a prickly pear margarita using cactus "infused" tequila. That's no help.

If you, dear reader, are a prickly pear expert who happened upon my blog, I'd be eternally grateful for any and all suggestions.

Now to remember to take my camera along on my next walk and share the view.

Update: Rachel from RachelsTinyFarm gives instruction on freezing the pear pods as a means of extracting the juice finger prick free.

19 comments:

Mrs. G. said...

I'm no help in the making of margaritas. Only the drinking of them. I've not had a PP one-sounds refreshing.

AnnD said...

I have no idea!! But, I'm so damn curious about a prickly pear margarita that I will try one whenever I come across it. I'm not a margarita person either but you got me interested now!

Vodka Mom said...

can you make it with vodka? I'll be right over....

phd in yogurtry said...

mrs g - I accept all offers of help, slurping included

ann - You will like these margaritas, trust me

vokda mom - I am very interested in this question as well, being a vodka girl at heart.

JCK said...

I'm just trying to figure how a PP can be both a laxative and a first aid something or other. I just want to drink one.

Madge said...

i am no help in the prickly pear area, but if you need a tester for those margarita's i'll be right over. i wouldn't want you to hurt yourself...

Lisa Milton said...

I've consumed one before & agree it was tasty, but I am utterly useless at giving any advice.

(I think Chevy's used to serve it. Maybe their headquarters would have a lead...)

Casey said...

No direct advice, although a friend who'd been used to buying prickly pear fruit at HEB had a painful experience when he tried to harvest his own, bare-handed. He ended up having to smear his hands with Elmer's glue and peeling off the dried glue along with the stickers. Wear heavy gloves if you go picking.

The ones I've bought at HEB are full of seeds. You'll need to strain the pulp. As for ripeness, I have no idea, sadly.

apathy lounge said...

Like Mrs. G...I only partake. I'm clueless on how to make. Hey, that rhymed.

Stacie said...

WOW! That margarita must have been really good. Alas, I have no advice to give you. Now, if you wanted to make something with peaches (I'm in Georgia) I'd have probably too much advice...

e.beck.artist said...

procrastinating the problem of the pesky purple prickly pear pod? pthhhhh! persevere!

Jeannie said...

I had a prickly pear drink in SA years and years ago -- it was good!

onebrick said...

No idea how to make the syrup, but those thorns, spikes or whatever they're called...YOW! A friend gave me a plant a few years ago and I ended up ripping it out and getting rid of it. I swear I got thorns stuck in me if I went within 10 feet of the thing.

GoteeMan said...

I ate thum pwickwy pear and now my tongue feelth funny... oooh, wath I thupothed to wemove the prwickleth firth?

=)

Health Psych said...

An alcoholic laxative! Sounds like a lot of fun! :)

phd in yogurtry said...

jck - salve outside body, laxative inside (clarification - the leaves not the fruit)

madge - thanks for your willingness to take one for the cause

phd in yogurtry said...

casey - Where in HEB do they sell thse? I've never seen them. yes, I will be armed with thick work gloves. I've gotten those stickers before, once packing a box with a cactus so she could bring it home for a souvenir. I used pot holders. Years later I'm still getting pricked when I use those potholders. Dumb.

apathy - you'll be in charge of the poet society

stacie - I could wrap my lips around a peach rita!

e - positively poetic!

jeanne - really? I didn't know they were around that long. I guess I was too busy slurping rasberry rita's there.

onebrick - we've been tempted to plant some in our rock garden but I'm too afraid the kids will fall into it

phd in yogurtry said...

goteeman - haha. it helpths, yeth

hp - I'm into healthy self abuse, what can I say?

Casey said...

PhD -- look in the produce section, where the "weird" or specialty fruits are.