Now that I had my first successful canning session under my belt, I was ready to can all. the. things. !! I wanted to make applesauce, and jelly, and salsa and the list goes on!
One afternoon, while we were estate sale”ing” in Corpus, we saw a sign on the side of the road that said “Fredericksburg Peaches” with an arrow. My mind immediately started working… peaches, peach preserves, peach jelly, peach salsa, peach syrup… we had to find this place. We drove around for a while, until we saw a roadside stand with a table full of peaches. In Colorado, the best place to get peaches is Palisade. Apparently, in Texas, it’s Fredericksburg.
Side story: When we came down to look at houses, then again when we were driving for the move, we drove through Fredericksburg. It is the cutest little Germany-inspired village. We would love to take a drive up there and spend some time, we just haven’t done it yet. But I can almost guarantee you, we will be there next July for the Fredericksburg Peach Festival.
Okay, back to my original story. We found the roadside stand. We wanted to try one of the peaches before we bought a bunch of them. We have been burned by roadside stands before! We couldn’t buy just a single peach, so we bought a little basket full. Josh pulled out his pocket knife and cut into the peach. It was so juicy and delicious and sweet! I think we made the seller’s day, he was grinning from ear to ear when we asked him if we could buy a whole box from him. We bought a 25 pound box.
I could hardly wait to get home to start processing these peaches. I dehydrated some, I canned some, I made some into peach preserves, we gave some to the Garza family, and I froze the rest to enjoy during the winter. I also saved all of the peach skins and pits to make jelly!
All over our property are prickly pear cactus plants. Josh has removed most of them, because snakes love to live at the base of them. He did keep one plant for me though so I can harvest the fruit from them. I first experienced the deliciousness of prickly pear when visiting my Aunts in Arizona several years ago. The fruit is very similar to a pear. It has a tart, sweet flavor when ripe. Many people make jelly or syrup with the fruit. Last year, I harvested the fruit and just ate it. This year, I wanted to make jelly and syrup.
Prickly pear fruits begin as little green nubs on the paddles of the cactus plant. They bud into beautiful yellow flowers, which then turn into large green bulbs that ripen to a beautiful magenta color. Once they are bright magenta, they are ready for harvest. They are, however, a cactus… so wear your leather gloves!
Making prickly pear anything is a MESS. If you’ve ever worked with pomegranates or beets, it’s the same principle. You’re going to be red no matter what you do. To prepare the fruit for juice, you begin by burning off the glochids (needles). You can use your gas stove (which is how I started) or you can use a torch (which is what I did after about 10 pieces and a cramped hand).
Once the needles are removed, you peel the fruit. The inside of the pear contains all of the seeds. There are hundreds of them! Since I am making this into jelly, I will be straining the fruit so I don’t need to try to remove them.
Once cut, they go in a pot with water to cook down for a few hours. Then the liquid is strained.
You now have prickly pear juice! You can drink this as is (though it is a little tart!), you can add sugar and boil it down to a syrup, or you can add pectin, lemon juice and sugar to make jelly!
P.S. Please keep in mind, it is extremely important to work in the kitchen only with supervision. 😉
Since I began canning, I have made many other types of jelly, including my new favorite- Chocolate Cherry Jam! I have also made salsa and canned pinto beans. If you are on our Christmas list, you’re probably getting something in a jar from us this year! 🎅
If you have any favorite canning recipes- please share them with me!
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