With an ongoing surfeit of prickly pear juice (and more fruit inbound this weekend, I hear), I decided to try some variations using the deadly-purple liquid. Over the past few days I’ve taken a bunch of ripe Serrano chiles from the bushes in the garden. They’re the only thing producing right now in our heat, other than okra. (And who eats THAT stuff, eh?) These little, red bullets of zest sure spice up tacos and the like; so I thought, why not put some in the prickly pear jelly?
This batch went very smoothly. I measured out 3¼ cups of the fruit juice, ¾ cup cider vinegar, 2½ cups each of sugar and sucralose, and 3 tablespoons of no-sugar pectin. Since the jelly-making equipment pretty much stays out and ready these days I had little setup time. All I had to do was cut off the stem ends of the Serranos, then halve them and remove the seeds. I also had one scrawny red jalapeño and two stunted ripe Cayenne chiles, so I included them. The more the merrier when it comes to capsaicin, yes? YES?? Right. I processed these chiles down with minimal fruit juice from the pot. I took them down to a very fine mince, basically a purée.
Mixing and boiling went smoothly, and the liquid looked very nice; no foaming this time, to speak of. Once I turned off the heat the syrup began to skin over immediately, indicating a strong jell, so I didn’t test independently. I moved directly to filling and canning jars, getting six full half-pints and about two ounces of leftovers for breakfast toast. I snuck a taste, and yes, it’s clearly prickly pear jelly. The heat is quite mild at first, then builds up a bit as the sugar dissolves on your tongue. Still, it’s not overpowering or flame-making; just a nice, even heat that makes you want more. (Yes, I gave in.)
The color’s the same as the previous batches, so I have to get labels on these new jars toot sweet. Wouldn’t want any surprises, come Christmas…
Enjoy the (Zesty Cactus Jelly) Heat!
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