Prickly pear season is winding down where I live. We can buy them cheaply in the grocery store in season, but even better- we can forage them, because the prickly pear cacti are very prolific. (They can be foraged in many parts of the world, even more temperate regions.) Quite a few neighbors of mine have them growing in their yard and invite me to come pick as many as I want, since they are scared to go near them, as they are afraid of their tiny near invisible thorns, called glochids, that cover them.
So I forage as many as I can, but, I'll admit, the glochids are off-putting to me too, since I am pretty good at avoiding them but am not 100% perfect that way. But because of the glochids, every prickly pear fruit I pick is precious to me, because it took a lot of effort.
The way I handle prickly pear fruit so I don't get glochids in my hands is by poking it with a fork and then using a sharp knife to cut off both ends. I then use the knife to score the skin from end to end, and then pull apart the outer layer using two forks, exposing the delicious soft and glochid free flesh inside. While this is a very effective way of ensuring that I don't get near invisible thorns stuck inside my flesh, it pains me to see just how much of the prickly pear ends up in the trash or compost, especially after the hard work to forage them. I've heard of people who remove all the glochids and dry the peel into a leather of sorts but I'm not daring enough since I don't trust myself to have removed all the glochids..
But one day it hit me- use the scraps to make my own tasty and cheap hooch! Lo and behold my prickly pear scrap wine was born. Not to worry, it is glochid free!
My prickly pears scrap wine was the perfect use for the peel and preventing waste as the peels impart their wonderful taste to the wine, not to mention gorgeous color. And if you live where the prickly pears are a magenta-like purple, you'll end up with something even more beautiful.
Your wine can reach approximately 8 or 9 percent alcohol with this recipe, and it is ready to drink in a short amount of time.
This may yet have been my favorite homemade alcohol yet, and it was the cheapest. While I made mine with prickly pear scraps you can make it with any fruit peels or cores. Bitter ones will result in a bitter that are not bitter. My next plan? Make it with the hawthorn fruit and rose hips that I just foraged last night.
Homemade Prickly Pear Scrap Wine Recipe- DIYIngredients
Enough prickly pear fruit peels to half fill a half gallon mason jar
1 1/2-2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons bread yeast
1. Collect your prickly pear peels (try saying that ten times fast) and put them in a half gallon mason jar.
2. Add your sugar and yeast, and then fill with water to approximately 2 inches from the top of the jar.
3. Cover with your mason jar cover, loosely closed, or top with a plastic bag secured onto the top of the jar with a rubber band.
4. Place on your counter or shelf (do not refrigerate).
5. Every 12 hours mix the contents of the jar, pushing down the peels that float up to the top.
6. After 2 days, remove a tiny bit of the liquid to taste, but first strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter before tasting. (Remember- there are glochids in there!) If you enjoy how it tastes at this point, you can stop it fermenting now. If you want it to be more alcoholic and/or less sweet, let it ferment for a few more days, tasting it every day.
7. When you've reached the desired alcoholic and sweetness level, strain the entire batch through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. If you're worried about glochids ruining the cheesecloth, I found the fermentation process damaged them, because I couldn't see any after straining. None got stuck in the cheesecloth; after washing, it was good as new.
8. Store in the refrigerator until using. You may see sediment sink down to the bottom of the container after a few days. This is yeast sludge and can either be mixed in, or left behind when you pour your drinks.
Have you ever eaten or foraged prickly pear fruit? What color were yours?
What are your tips for dealing with glochids? Have you ever done anything prickly pear peels before?
Does this look like a recipe you'd try?