Monday, 21 September 2009

Recipe: Prickly Pear puree

For us, a trip to the South-West USA isn't complete unless we come home with a jar of prickly pear jam. The fruit of the prickly pear cactus (part of the Opuntia family) is a rare sight here in the UK but it grows all across the Med as well as the Americas. The flesh of the fruit is similar to watermelon with sweet strawberry/kiwi overtones. It's really quite unique and decidedly exotic.

If you are fortunate enough to lay your hands on some of the fruit, try making the following sauce; it's great on vanilla ice-cream or as an accompaniment to a tart cheesecake.

15 fresh prickly pears (called tunas) - pick those that are firm and not too ripe (yellow/pale pink)
70g sugar
A squeeze of lime

Prepare the fruit by cutting in half and scopping out the flesh with a spoon. Coarsely chop and press through a sieve. This is a little time consuming but be patient as the results are well worth it.

In a saucepan, combine 2/3rds of the puree with the sugar and boil rapdily over a high heat until reduced to 1/3. Allow to cool before returning to the uncooked puree. Taste and season with extra suagr (if needed) and the lime.

Here's some I made last week while on holiday in The Balearics. Cacti grow all over the island, particularly on the southern slopes of hills, and are in fruit at this time of the year.

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