Prickly pears are like the pineapples of the desert -- luscious tropical fruits with a thick rind that takes a little more than simple peeling to break through. If you buy prickly pears in the market, half the sticky work is taken care of; market-form pricklies have their annoying spines removed. To extract the rich, magenta nectar, you must steam or slice the rind away. If you choose the latter method, wear food-handler gloves in case you encounter an errant spine. Protect your work surface and clothes, too. Prickly pear juice stains, similar to beet juice.
Things You'll Need
- Potato masher or fork
- Mesh strainer
- Rubber spatula or spoon
Rinse the prickly pears and set them in a pot with about 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a simmer and cover; simmer the fruit for 10 minutes.
Drain the fruit in a colander and transfer them to a dry pot. Mash the fruit with a potato masher or fork.
Transfer the fruit to a large mesh strainer lined with two or three layers of cheesecloth set over a bowl. Drain the juice for several minutes them press the solids with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon.
Squeeze the fruit solids in the cheesecloth and wring the juice from them. Discard the solids and store the juice in a glass airtight container in the refrigerator. You can use a plastic container, but expect it to stain.
Rinse the prickly pears and trim about 1/2 inch from the ends. Make a 1/2-inch-deep slice through the skin of the fruit, from top to bottom.
Grasp the skin where you made the incision and peel it off the fruit; it should come away in one piece.
Roughly chop the flesh and transfer it to a food processor. Puree the fruit until liquified, about 2 minutes on high.
Strain the juice through strainer lined with two or three layers of cheesecloth set over a bowl. Press on the fruit solids with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula. Transfer the juice to a glass storage container and store it in the refrigerator.