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The Jam Curse is Lifted!

Added: Friday, August 28th 2009 at 6:52pm by Margar3t
Category: Food & Drink
Related Tags: nature, recipe, food, life, photography

A while back I was thinking about making prickly pear jam. Guess seeing the beautiful red fruit just inspired me. Many years ago, I tried to make prickly pear jelly, I ended up with syrup. It was good but too runny for toast.

I got lots of suggestions on why it didn't work but had not attempted it since. This summer I went wild and decide to go for jam... with little bits of prickly pear fruit in it.:) This post is on the process we went through, the disaster we encounted and the final success.

The first step in anything with prickly pear fruit is to pick the fruit. By the way the fruit is called "tuna or tunas" in plural, well making jam with "TUNA" just sounds gross so I will call them pears of fruits. The word tuna makes me think of fish and who would want to eat fish jam?

The pears are covered with tiny stickers so you just don't even want to think about touching them with your bare hands. We found two easy ways to get rid of the thorns.

Method one... the one that works the best but is a little more time consuming. Burn the thorns off the fruit as you pick it with a propane torch, making sure to also get the bottom of the fruit after it is picked. The bottoms of the fruit where it attaches to the cactus can have tons and tons of little thorns that look almost like fuzz.... it is NOT fuzz.

The second method is to pick all the fruits with tongs, toss them in a bucket and burn the thorns off over the gas stove. This method does not work quite as well because the fruits can pick up thorns from their neighbors in the bucket. But I will admit it is a lot cooler to be inside than standing in the sun burning thorns. :)

Close up of the thorns... and some neighbor thorns that have stuck themselves in to a fruit... the fuzz at the bottom of this fruit is actually a million tiny thorns. The little beige areas are all tiny thorns.

Here are the fruits after burning off the thorns. They are all juicy. This burning also helps the skin to come off easily... keep in mind "easy" is a relative term.:)

Once all the thorns are gone, cut off both ends of the fruit. Then you can make a slit along the fruit for peeling the skin (slit not shown)

Then you just peel off the thin layer of skin. If you go too deep you are going to lose all the meat of the fruit. The skin is rather thin. The fruits are more seeds than anything.

Then I cut the pealed fruits in half to pull off the meat. Most of the recipes I found said to "scrape out" the seeds... this is lame because it is a pain. It is way easier to just peel off the meat. See below.

The meat of the fruit peels right off the seeds. The seeds stay in a little glump. We tossed the seed blobs in a pan to extract juice from later. You don't want to leave any seeds because the seeds are like rocks. They would most likely break your teeth it you tried to chew one. I have read that they can be ground into some type of flour, but I have no idea how to do that or what you would use it for.

This photo as gross as it looks is actually all the wonderful meat from the fruits. They taste a lot like a kiwi fruit. I ended up slicing up this fruit meat to add to the juice to make jelly into jam.

We took the seeds and skins, cooked them with a cup or two of water for a while to extract all the juice. One recipe I read said to smush it through a strainer. We just boiled it and strained it to get the juice. Seemed much eaiser to me. Above you see the sliced fruit with the juice extraced from the seeds and me... adding sugar.

You also add lemon juice, lemon rind and pectin. I will put the recipe we ended up with at the end.

Then you boil the heck out of the whole mess. This is where I went wrong in the past. I did not boil it long enough or hot enough for the jelly to jell. This is probably one  of the most important parts  and it took quite a long time.

Here is our finished jam... why is it upside down? I really have no idea, just something my mom said to do. We ended up putting it back the the hot water bath as the directions in the pectin package instructed us to do, right side up.

And there is the final result JAM!!!

We did have a mishap with the first batch we tried. We didn't boil it long enough, ended up with syrup with fruit bits in it. I went on line and read it could be re-boiled and re-canned. I poured all the jars back in a pan and re-boiled it.. hey it started to jell. The disaster was when I pulled the old candy thermometer out... part of the glass was missing. Needless to say, that jam went in the trash and we started all over again. Picking all new pears, burning off the thorns... and on and on. :)

Ok so here is the recipe we ended up with if you are interested in makeing prickly pear jam at some point in your life.

Prickly Pear Jam
50 prickly pear fruits
4 maybe 5 cups of sugar
2 cups water (to boil seeds in)
Juice of 2 lemons and 1 grated lemon rind
1 (Net Wt. 1.75 OZ)  package pectin

Burn thorns off pears. Cut ends off, peel skin off pears then peel the meat off leaving the seeds behind. Put seed blobs and skin if you want in a pan with 2 cups water simmer for about a half hour, then drain off the juice. Throw away the seeds and skin.

Put juice in really large pan with cut up prickly pear meat, lemon juice, lemon rind, sugar and pectin. Boil the heck out of it. 216°F for our altitude. As the syrup continues to boil, the drops will become heavier and will drop off the spoon two at a time. When the two drops form together and "sheet" off the spoon, the jellying point has been reached. (or you can put some in a cool spoon and see if it thickens as it cools)

Pour into prepared sterilized  jelly jars and seal. Process as indicated on your pectin package (Have jars clean and hot. Pack product to within ¼-inch of top, and seal. Heat process for 6 minutes in boiling water bath canner (10 minutes for cold, unsterile jars). Count time from when water returns to boil. )

Made 12 4oz jars plus 2 8oz jars.

I found this site quite helpful http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can7_jam_jelly.html

User Comments

I have to commend you!  No way in this world I would do all that, I have not the patience!  I am glad it turned out good this time and was worth the effort! :)

Yeah, I have to agree... this is probably the only prickly pear jam I will ever make... it became a bit of an obssesion. LOL. It tastes prettty good but much easier to purchase than make.:) Thanks so much for taking the time to look at the whole silly thing and for your comment. Have an excellent night.

It wasn't silly.  It was actually very interesting and informative.

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. If I ever do this again it will be jelly. All you have to do for that is burn off the thorns, wash the fruit, cook and smash it to get the juice. Way easier than all that peeling, seeding and fruit meat getting. LOL Have a good one.

nope...definitely havent seen this in Perth...I should have guessed it was a cactus thing. Can you eat the fruit raw or does it have to be cooked??

I love how you did this...the pics and all....I will try and find the ready-made jam first before I even attempt to make it....which I wont be able to unless I find the fruit somewhere...lol

Oh, yes, you can eat the fruit raw. But you must remove the thorns. They taste a lot like a kiwi fruit. They are suppose to be quite good for you. You can also eat the young pads of the cactus but I have never done that and I think they need to be cooked but I am not sure.

I am sure you can buy the jam or jelly on line. Jelly is more common and now I know why because the jam is a much bigger pain in the neck. :) So glad you enjoyed the post. It was fun making the jam but not something I think I will do each year, it is very involved and frankly I like blackberry jam better. :) Thanks for checking out the post and for your great comment. Have a good one.


Thank you, thank you... it was really a lot of fun. I don't think I would want to do it everyday but still fun once in awhile. This is my first successful attempt at canning anything. We want to can Greek olives someday.:) Thanks for your visit, and wonderful applause. Have a great day

Thank you...yum...yum

You did great, good to see and read. As to would I do it, no. Glad you did something you wanted to try and stayed with the project till success. {#apploud.gif}{#high_five.gif}

Thanks Ana, it became a bit of an obsession.:) It was fun and interesting. We learned a lot in the process. Destroying on batch with broken glass gave us the opportunity to learn how to peal the fruit meat out more easily. Also the bigger new recipe gives me enough to share. Thanks for your visit and comment. Glad you enjoyed the post. Have a good one

Yay!!! It turned out quite pretty! Pass the toast, please! {#apploud.gif}{#dancing6.gif}

I know... I am so happy I finally got it to work. It does make a pretty jam. Tastes pretty good too. Thanks for your visit and comment. Come by for jam anytime. Have a excellent day.

LOL! I wish I could! That would be fun. Toast and jam, with coffee, out on the porch with the hummers.

Yes it so would! Too bad we don't live down the street from eachother.:) Well at least we do in blogland. LOL

I have to admit it is so fun meeting people I would never have the chance to meet in my real life, here on blog life. You have been just wonderful here. :) Perhaps someday we will have tea and jam in person.

I'd like that! If I ever get the chance to head out that way, I'll certainly let you know. I have great fun with you here, I'm reasonably sure we'd have as much fun in person. {#basic-smile.gif}

I will trade you strawberry jam for yours :)

Sure, why not. Bring it with you when you come to the Gem Show.:) That is if I still have some jam left in January. We are planning to give some away as gifts. It takes a lot of prickly pear fruits to make jam.:) Thanks for your visit and comment. Have a good day.

You got it!

Ah the delights of your posts. This does look yummy but oh my for a first try I have to say you picked a rough one. Ha !  Kudo's for no jam would have been worth that much effort in doing oneself.  Great sequence of pictures and it really was most enteraining and really does look like it was worth the effort.

Sorry, can you tell I'm tired.  It's just me forgetting I logged out when I wanted to check in.  DUH :)

So glad you enjoyed it... guessing you popped over from wordpress. There seems to be no way to know who you are here on blogster, not sure if you you will get and email back from your comment, hopefully you will, but I am guessing you won't. :) Not sure how blogster handles this stuff... anyway, thanks so much for stopping in and for your comment. Have a great day.

So glad you enjoyed the post. The jam is yummy and yes, perhaps I should have tried an easier jam for first try but how could I pass up prickly pears. LOL  Thanks for checking out the post and for the wonderful comment. Have a great night.

Sure looks yummy. Never had prickley pear anything. Boy do I live a sheltered life.

LOL, not really sheltered.... I don't think many people that are not faced with prickly pears every morning even think about it.. unless they are on vacation in prickly pear country.:) The jam is yummy, and from what I have read prickly pear fruit and cactus is really very good for you, tons of vitamin C more info here http://www.helium.com/items/1150308-pickly-pear-nutritional-benefits along with any search of benifit of prickly pear cactus.:) Thanks so much for stopping in and for your comment. Have a great night.

Love the post!! Your brave! I don't think I would actually be able to brave those little soft white thorns. I've seen those on a mini potted cactus I had once. I touched them because I didn't know if it was fuzz or thorns, but I pulled my finger up to have my fingertip embedded with tiny, itchy, painful, not easy to get out thorns. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper :P

I made blueberry jam with my friend at Christmas-time though, that was fun^_^ We tried doing marmalade as well, but we screwed it up because we tried doing too much at once & we were trying to rush at the end. We made baked good gift bags for a list of my friends & family. Gingerbread snowflakes, potato bread, banana bread, whipped shortbread with chocolate chunks, rice crispy peppermint bark & the blueberry jam. My friend Julie & I spent 2 days in a row (+ an afternoon for gift-wrapping) at my wee little apt making this stuff. We got almost no sleep, we were so wrapped up in baking. Have a good day now!! =)

:) That is why you burn off the thorns before you touch anything. :) WOW sounds like you and your friend were very busy. I love blueberry jam! What a wonderful gift, everything sounds so delicious.

~Kilroy was here~


Looks yummy, Meg!

:) After looking at this post I have to think 'wow times change' most of the people that commented aren't even on blogster anymore... weird. When August comes again, I just may make some jelly if I do, I will save you a jar or two. :)

Yup, folks come and go around here, mostly go.

When they banned my original little-whip account, they even wiped all my comments, site-wide.

Every now and then an older post will pop up, and I can see people talking to me...but I ain't there.

It weirds me out every time.

Weird, I did't know they wiped out comments. At one time all the old post photo links broke, I emailed Bobski about fixing this one since I shared it on wordpress, he fixed it but a lot of really old posts still have broken links, or weird squashed photos... :)

I knew those tunas were good for something!


Yep made it a few times. I love making salsa out the fruit. it was a test of my own no recipe just me throwning the stuff in to tastte.

the worse part is those thorns and fine fine stickers that fine hairy stuff. I have a flat surface stove I turn it on high and held over it worked I even rolled then right on teh burn that worked well but you had to keep moving so they didn't burn my easy way was using a candle. I ran out of my baking gas it's a little hand held torch didn't want to use teh big one but yes next time it will be teh torch as I pick because teh fruit when poked was a mess and have red hands for days. on one batch of jam I through  in jalapeno pepper did pretty good I only used a half because I didn't want it over powered since it was a test. MM I do have a picture of the salsa in my files if I can find I'll share.. salsa I made just like if I was using tomato.

your really turned out nice just think of all the fruit still outside. the Mockingbirds love that fruit.  so do the other ground fed birds.  

I found an easy way to remove the thorns and get the juice. You rince the fruits put them all in a paper bag and put them in the freezer over night, next morning pour them in a colander lined with a few layers of cheese cloth and put that over a large bowl. When the fruits melt, they release their juice. Just press them with a large spoon and the bowl fills with juice. Once you have squashed out all the juice pick up all the remains in the cheese cloth and put it out for the birds. All the seeds and tiny stickers are stuck in the cheese cloth. Works GREAT... don't try to reuse the cheese cloth. :)

Oh I remember reading that somewhere didn't remember it (Thanks). I didn't remember the frozen part. but to get the chucks of the fruit I guess we have to deal with the thorn LOL LOL  Thanks again

In my experience the "chunks" aren't worth the trouble.... nor is for jam, I think that is why everyone makes jelly. But if you just want to eat the fruit, you have to deal with getting rid of the thorns. There are tons of tips from all over the world on my wordpress blog in the comment area. http://mostlyphotos.wordpress.com/2009/08/29/prickly-pear-jam/

we only liked tit because we made salsa out of the fruit. OH I know those thorns well . the ones you can't see will drive you nuts in your fingers.

So true

laffs at your tuna fish jam comment...lol  you are right..it does sound nasty and I wouldn't want to eat any.

And had to laff at your boil the heck out of the whole mess...LOL  I could just hear you explaining all this live on a TV food channel..   And it does look gross in the oone photo..looks like raw meat.  ew...

It would be too much work for me and just maybe to have it flop on me..not surn out...after all that work..ug   But it looks delicous and bet it was! {#basic-laugh.gif}

My daughter always says I should have a cooking/craft show because I am so funny when I do stuff. She says it would be hilarious to watch. I think it would probably be boring. :)

I only made the jam once, it was a pain in the neck and not as exciting tasting as blackberry jam. Prickly pear tastes kind of like kiwi. It looks like it would taste differently but nope. I have harvested the juice only, freeze it as icecubes, drop one in tea, lemon-aid or whatever. Oddly enough I did not make any margaritas with the juice... what the heck was I thinking??? Well this makes me think I might just want to harvest some more "tunas" for juice... (yuck tuna juice) and have a prickly pear margarita party. :)

I'm there for the PP Rita party!!!!  ; ))

lol  You might be surpirsed at how many people would enjoy your cooking / craft show if you had one.   I think you would be funny / entertaining  from what I've read here.

: ) that is what my daugher always says. She laughs at me a lot. Maybe one day I will get a youtube channel and do cooking and craft shows for people to laugh at. Heck I could even do a little gardening, falling is always funny. :)

lol...it might be a fun thing to do Marg.. ; )

Guess I would have to get some video editing software and a video camera. LOL

DO...I'll be your first fan!!!  lol


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