Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly is a low-sugar or low-honey cooked jelly made with Pomona’s Universal Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener.
Basic procedure for processing Prickly Pear juice:
- Collect the fruits using tongs placing them in 5 gallon buckets
- Double rinse the fruit and let set in the water while we prepare for processing.
- A bucket/bowl/kettle with a double layer of cheese cloth fastened in place with a rubber band/string/velcro strap/etc
- Using the tongs, place the fruits in the blender and crush for several seconds until there are no whole fruits left.
- Most of the Glochids (thorns/stickers) will come off when they are in the water but it's still a good idea to use the tongs to place the fruits in the blender. Any thorns or Glochids that may still be left on the prickly pear are strained out through the cheese cloth.
- Pour the pulp onto the cheesecloth and let drain into the bucket.
- After the juice is finished dripping, place the plup into a mesh strainer and let drain while processing the balance of the fruit. Alternately, you can place the pulp in a cheesecloth bag and squeeze or press the juice out. A 5 gallon bucket will yield approximately 14 quarts of juice.
- Bring juice to a full, rolling boil.
- Skim impurities off the top. Continue process until there are no impurities coming to the surface when at a full roll boil.
- You are now ready to can the juice into jelly.
- 4 cups cactus juice see note
- 4 teaspoons calcium water see step #1
- ½ cup lemon or lime juice bottled
- ¾ cup up to 1 cup honey or 1 ¼ cups up to 2 cups sugar
- 4 teaspoons up to 5 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder mixed with sweetener
- Before You Begin, prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid.Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
- Wash jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring to a boil. Turn off heat, cover, and keep jars in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small saucepan; cover and heat to a low boil. Turn off heat and keep lids in hot water until ready to use.
- Prepare prickly pear cactus juice. (see note)
- Measure juice into saucepan.
- Add calcium water and lemon juice and mix well.
- Measure sugar or room temperature honey into a bowl. Thoroughly mix pectin powder into sweetener. Set aside.
- Bring juice mixture to a full boil. Add pectin-sweetener mixture, stirring vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the jam comes back up to a boil. Once the jam returns to a full boil, remove it from the heat.
- Fill hot jars to ¼” of top. Wipe rims clean. Screw on 2-piece lids. Put filled jars in boiling water to cover. Boil 10 minutes (add 1 minute more for every 1,000 ft. above sea level). Remove from water. Let jars cool. Check seals; lids should be sucked down. Eat within 1 year. Lasts 3 weeks once opened.