Prickly Pear Jelly (Heritage Recipe)

Prickly Pear Jelly (Heritage Recipe)
For several years, when the children were teenagers, the Tanner family would go out to the desert and pick prickly pear fruit at the end of the summer. It was a great outing for Labor Day. The fruit was not good to eat raw, but would be used to make prickly pear jelly. After making batches and batches, we had our Christmas gifts ready for friends and neighbors. We also enjoyed the fruit of our labors. This is a deep red, beautiful jelly.
Singe spines off prickly pears over an open flame. Cut up fruit and boil in juicer, press, and get juice out. Strain juice through several layers of cheesecloth to get out all impurities and spines.

2 1/2 cups juice
2 TB. lemon juice
1 pkg. pectin
Stir well and bring juices and pectin to boil to dissolve pectin:
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. citric acid
Bring to rolling boil (one that cannot be stirred down) and boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Skim off all bubbles from jelly. Spoon into sterile jars and seal. At this point current guidelines suggest processing in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Notes: We gave up singeing off spines and glocids. We put the well rinsed fruit in our steam juice extractor that has been lined with a piece of well laundered old sheet. As the fruit steams, cut the fruit with a sharp knife and mash a little bit with a potato masher to help get all the juice. This takes about 3 hours. Use juice to make jelly or double the juice and sugar amounts, process as above and call it syrup.

Picked prickly pear fruits. Use tongs. This box full was picked in about 30 minutes. Watch out for rattle snakes coiled near the base of the plant!
 This is the fruit in the steam juice extractor after it has been cooking for about an hour.
 This is the steam juice extractor with almost 4 cups of prickly pear juice drained off. From this full pan, I got 9 cups of juice.
The jelly can be thinned down to syrup consistency and makes a delightful addition to lemonade or a topping for vanilla ice cream.

{Note from Tiffany} Follow these links to Walking Arizona for pictures that our dad took of the Prickly Pear plant with blooms:
A Prickly Treat
Prickly Pear Fruit
Prickly Pear Fruit
Prickly Delight


  1. Trying this today, so we will see how it works out! I started with 10lbs of prickly pears.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts