Prickly pear jam
Confettura di fichi d’India
My neighbour likes to leave eatable presents outside my window in the morning, and in the fichi d’India season I woke up to mountains of peeled and disarmed prickly pears in red, orange and yellow. To return the favour I gave her a glass of homemade prickly pear jam, and what a success. The idea of preserving the fruit with sugar hadn’t occurred to her before, and she hates to see good food go to waste. Now I’m pretty sure she will start a production line that can supply prickly pear jam to the entire family.
This recipe makes a runny jam of more or less the same consistency as honey. If you want a thicker and more jelly like texture commercial pectin should be added. In Italy every household has a ‘passaverdure’ which I’ve used to mash and sieve the fruit. If you haven’t got a food mill, you can press it through an ordinary sieve to remove the rather indigestible seeds.
1 kg peeled prickly pears
50 ml water
1 lemon (juice)
500 g sugar
Chop the fruit and bring it to the boil with 50 ml water
Pass the pulp through a sieve or a food mill to remove the seeds
Add sugar to the fruit puré and let it boil for 5-10 minutes
Stir in lemon juice and let it boil until the jam passes the jelly test (ie when the drops hang on to a cool metal spoon instead of running off like liquid.)
Pour the jam into sterilized jars.
If you want the jam to keep for more than a couple of weeks, you should boil the jar with a tight fitting lid in a water bath. When the prickly pear jam inside the jar starts to bubble, a vacuum seal is formed, and you can turn off the heat and leave the jar to cool.