It was a relatively wet spring in the Southwest this year, at least in the Sonoran Desert. This has made for a bounty of prickly pears. Once you’ve picked and juiced them, then what? There’s always prickly pear margaritas, prickly pear lemonade, and prickly pear jelly. But why not expand? Since it is still pretty warm throughout the fall, frozen desserts are a good place to start. Combining prickly pear juice with the luscious ripe stone fruits of the season is a good way to combine flavors.
Making your own frozen desserts is easy and healthy-nothing but fruit, honey, and cream. No weird emulsifiers or gums.
No need to peel or dethorn the prickly pear fruits. Make your juice with this easy recipe, then on to the sherbet.
Easy Prickly Pear Juice
Using tongs, collect 18-24 prickly pears. Wearing rubber gloves, rinse fruit and quarter. Working in batches, puree fruit in a blender. You’ll need to add a little water to get the first batch started. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and discard solids. The thorns will get caught in the strainer.
Prickly Pear Honey Sherbet
3 medium very ripe peaches, peeled
2 ½ cups prickly pear juice
½ cup honey
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup whipping cream or half and half
Slice peaches. Combine with 1 cup of the prickly pear juice in a medium saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add honey and cook gently, stirring until honey is dissolved. Transfer the mixture with the remaining 1 ½ cups prickly pear juice to a blender. If you have an ice cream maker, also add the whipping cream. Refrigerate until chilled and then transfer to an ice cream maker.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, transfer to a bowl and freeze until nearly hard. Break up and beat with an electric mixer. Beat whipping cream until stiff and fold into the fruit mixture. Refreeze until hard.
Need more prickly pear recipes? You’ll find them in my Prickly Pear Cookbook in the Native Seeds/SEARCH store, in National Parks stores, or on Amazon. It includes 60 recipes for cocktails, salads, barbecue sauces, main dishes, and desserts including not just the fruit but the cactus pads (nopales) as well. Even more recipes in Cooking the Wild Southwest, Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants.