Hello friends, it’s Amy here with my new favorite late summer treat. Pink prickly pear pops are creamy and easy to bite, yet vegan using coconut milk. For a prickly pear peach sorbet using cream and honey, try Carolyn’s recipe from last season. Also, try Tia Marta’s Prickly Pear-Mesquite-White Sonora Wheat Muffins (Ihbhai c Kui Wihog Pas-tihl).
With the drought, there are very few prickly pears out in the wild this year.
However, the young plants in my yard near water harvesting basins set a decent amount of fruit, especially for their size.
Even though the fruit may look purple sooner, I usually wait until September to harvest. If picked before total ripeness, the firm flesh holds onto the juice and it is more difficult to extract. To check, I simply pluck them off the plant with kitchen tongs. Ideally, the fruit separates easily from the plant and the skin with no tinge of green at the base tears the fruit open a bit (see the holes in the bottoms of the fruit in the photo below). If juice runs where the tongs squeeze the flesh, it’s definitely ready!!!!
I then blend the whole fruit, spines and all.
The hard seeds remain intact, while the pulp and skins are pureed. Then I strain the slurry through a cloth napkin or other piece of fabric. Cheese cloth is not fine enough.
This strains out the seeds, pulp, pieces of skin, spines and the tiny, skin-irritating glochids.
It drains slowly, so sometimes I tie the ends of the fabric, hanging it to drip in the refrigerator.
The clear juice is ready to make treats or savory food right away, or freeze for later. As an extra precaution, I let the juice stand, then pour the clear liquid from the top, sacrificing the bottom inch from the vessel to leave behind any sediment.
To make pops, I heated some juice with lemon and sugar, then thickened it slightly with cornstarch to make a thin syrup.
After taking it off the heat, I added a can of coconut milk. Add a little lemon or orange extract, if you like.
When completely chilled in the refrigerator over night, it is ready to be frozen in an ice cream maker.
If you just pour the mixture into the pop molds, it will freeze as hard as ice. But this method makes pops that are easy to bite.
Of course, it can be eaten now as soft serve or frozen in one container to enjoy as a sorbet. But spooned into reusable pop molds, it is portion controlled!!!
Prickly pear coconut frozen pops (or sorbet)
By Amy Valdes Schwemm
1 cup prickly pear juice
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
13-15 oz coconut milk
lemon or orange extract (commercial or 100 proof vodka infused with zest) to taste
Bring first four ingredients to a gentle boil. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water in a small dish. Add to pan, and simmer for one minute. Add coconut milk and extract. Remove from heat to cool and refrigerate until well chilled. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze. Firm in freezer, either in pop molds or a lidded container. Enjoy!