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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Picking Prickly Pears

After many weeks of procrastination, I finally decided to go prickly pear picking with my neighbor, Argentina from Guatemala. Our mission: to find the deepest purple, most succulent prickly pear fruits we could. We hopped in the car and began driving with no real direction--in fact, we got lost.

And then we saw what we had come for.

A perfectly manucured fence lined with some of the largest prickly pears I've seen. We had to get these babies, but I don't believe in being rude and picking other peoples plants so I mustered up all the courage I could and drove up the long gravel driveway and asked the owner if I could pick her prickly pears. She agreed and asked for a jar of prickly pear jelly in return. I think I can handle that.

So we parked and examined the cacti, using care not to stick ourselves with their many thorns. The trick to picking prickly pears is this: tongs. If you don't use tongs, you'll be pulling teensy tiny stickers out of your fingers for at least a day. Believe me. I forgot my tongs on this trip.

As I filled my bowl with magenta fruits, Argentina from Guatemala plucked prickly pears from the cacti and placed them into her grocery bag. That's when this guy showed up:

At first my friend was nervous and I chuckled to myself as I heard a very worried woman talk to this handsome horse. Then the horse headed my way. I could see why Argentina was so nervous as this horse was very macho. I don't blame him--after all we were the strange ones picking the cacti.

In the end, we picked around 70 cups of prickly pears--way more than we needed. In other words, I now have enough prickly pears to make over 120 jars of jelly. Holy hotdog what the heck am I supposed to do with that many jars of jelly?

Don't even get me started on the wild persimmons we picked.


Dijea said...

persimmons! My grandmother had persimmon trees and she always had jelly.


f8hasit said...

picking prickly pears
picking prickly pears
picking prickly pears

I couldn't even TYPE that 3 times without corrections!

Sounds like it was a blast! I've never had prickly pear jam. 120 jars, I guess you can set up a roadside stand!

Mindee said...

I am continually amazed by what you manage to make food out of. They featured cacti on To Chef last night. You could have been there cooking with the pros!

Trac~ said...

I never knew there was such a thing as prickly pears before! HA! Anytime you want to share any of those jars of pear jelly - feel free! I LOVE homemade jams! Ha ha! :o)

LeAnn said...

Is this something that you do every year, or did your impromptu snack at E-Rock inspire you? ;)

Texas Playwright Chick said...

I've always wondered what Prickly Pear Jam tastes like. Sounds delish!!! Truly gorgous horse!

Screwed Up Texan said...

Dijea, Yes! Another persimmon lover! Argentina loved the ripe persimmons. She says she thinks they taste like bubblegum (although I have no idea which bubblegum she's referring to).

f8hasit, You're right! Too hard to say three times real fast.

Mindee, Maybe I should start watching that show. I just barely heard about it yesterday.

Trac~, What? I must know where you live, lol. I thought everyone had heard about them.

LeAnn, Believe it or not, lol, this is what I do every year. Usually I pick them in the Hill Country, but neglected to when I was down at Enchanted Rock a couple weeks ago.

Texas Playwright Chick, It is certainly a unique taste if you've never made it before. I think it is reminiscent of cucumbers and pears.

NitWit1 said...

If you forgot the tongs, what did you use, or are you picking the tiny hairs out of your fingers?

Although a former Texan, I avoided prickly pear Cactus on my Dad's farm My mean spirited Shetland pony dumped me in a cactus when I was very young. Needless to say it left a lasting impression on me.

Lorilee said...

Many, many years ago, my mom and I made Prickly pear jelly. We also picked the "tunas" with tongs. We burned the little stickers off with a candle if I remember correctly. I thought it tasted like mild mustang grape jelly.

Michelle Hoad said...

I miss prickly pear jelly. My grandmother made it every year and I haven't had it since I was a child. I wonder if I could convince my husband to go out and pick some on Sunday?

KMDuff said...

If you are looking for a home for some of those prickly pears, I'd love to try making the jam too. Sounds fun! :D

Screwed Up Texan said...

NitWit1, lol but I was picking out the thorns one by one! I even found some on my stomach (I have no clue how that happened).

Lorilee, I'll have to try burning off the stickers from the tunas. And it is reminiscent of mustangs...almost with cucumber mixed in. BTW, I discovered it makes an excellent ice cream as well!

Michelle, If you can convince him, I will have the recipe I use up tomorrow.

KMDuff, Hey we should meet up sometime. If you do want some of these prickly pears, I have a bunch right now waiting for a home.

Amy @ Living Locurto said...

That's pretty cool you actually found some and that many!

Save a jar for me:-)

ForeverRhonda said...

Now I'm sitting at work trying to say picking prickly pears 3 times fast! LOL

Screwed Up Texan said...

Amy, If you really want a jar let me know and I'll save you one.

Forever Rhonda, I did the same thing...well except not at work.

KMDuff said...

I'd drive over right now/this weekend if I wasn't stuck at home with the flu (possibly swine this time) again. Don't think its neighborly to share that LOL.

Yum, can't wait to see the prickly pear ice cream recipe!

Laurie said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I have been wanting to make prickly pear jelly, and your directions are very simple and easy to follow. Looking forward to finding out how to juice the "tunas".

DangGina said...

Oh my heck. Prickly Pears have got to be one of the coolest fruits ever! -I wonder what they taste like...

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