Pat’s prickly pear preserve

Apparently prickly pears are in abundance this year, so if you are growing them, have a go at making some jam like Dublin local, Pat Thompson did.

Did you know prickly pear fruit is full of Vitamin C, fibre, calcium, magnesium and has powerful antioxidants?

They are obviously good for you, so when Pat was given a gift of locally grown prickly pear fruit – lots of it – she didn’t want to waste them.

Pat gave us a few suggestions about how to use them up, and while she is a guru jam and relish maker, she had never before dealt with, or even tasted, prickly pears!

After some “very painful traumas at first,” Pat said to be very wary of the prickly bits!

To help with easy handling of the prickly pears, a friend of Pat’s suggested putting the pears in a bowl (a small number at a time) and covering with boiling water, leaving for a few minutes, and this worked a treat!

Pat said she found them very “palatable” served cold with custard or ice cream, and also made tasty jam, which we tried.

The jam was tasty, with some little hard pips in it from the fruit and tasted a bit like fig jam and melon, but not quite.

However Pat said she would strain the pips out next time, and we also thought that would be better.

It would be very nice spread on toast or muffins, but we spread it on plain hot cross buns and it was very nice!

Pat sells her jams (including this jam) and pickles at the New Dublin Hotel and Port Parham Sports and Social Club to raise funds for local community projects.

Pat’s Prickly Pear Jam

Ingredients

For every pound of peeled fruit, one pound of sugar.

Citric acid or Vacola jam setter

Method

Soak prickly pears in boiling water, cut open lengthwise and remove flesh.

Weigh fruit, and cover with equal amount of sugar and let stand over night.

Next morning, add a good half a teaspoon of citric acid to each pound of fruit.

(Pat used one packet of Vacola jam setter for eight pound of peeled fruit, and the juice and grated peel of four lemons.)

Place pot over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved, then boil more rapidly for an hour or so, stirring occasionally until the jam is set.

(Tip – Strain pips out before bottling!)

Bottle immediately into warm sterilised jars, then seal.

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