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Old 04-28-2010, 05:03 AM   #1
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Default Prickly Pears??

I have been hit with a strong interest in brewing a Prickly Pear mead as written in the Home brewers companion, Does anyone know where one might be able to find some cactus fruits?

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Old 04-28-2010, 03:44 PM   #2
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He does make that mead sound pretty awesome.

In CA and the southwest many people grow them in their yards, but I assume that is not possible with the Cleveland climate. You may have to go to a specialty market (a Latin market possibly). They are not in season until the fall though so it might be best to wait.

I'm about to get this strawberry mead going (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/look...-recipe-87689/) since strawberries are in season, but you'll have to let me know how the prickly pear mead turns out. It's defiantly on my to-do list.

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Old 04-28-2010, 03:57 PM   #3
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If you drive down to Jungle Jim's, I would bet dollars to donuts you could find them there when they're in season (if there is a prickly pear season).

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Old 04-28-2010, 05:32 PM   #4
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Check the mexican grocery stores

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Old 04-28-2010, 07:18 PM   #5
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Jungle Jims hmmm thats quite a ways but not out of the question, I sent the a e-mail asking if and when they might have them. I will def. look for the mexican grocery in the area. we do have a big produce market, maybe one of the vendors might know. I thinking about strawberry untill I can get this worked out. Will frozen work as well as fresh, fresh might be awfully expensive. I've never attempted a mead before and I am brand new to brewing in general. I want to brew a sweet mead but proabbly in the middle of the (Dry ---- (here) -- Sweet) range. I know its based on sugar amount, does anyone have some basic suggestions? is thier a direct purportion of lbs of honey to volume? seems dificult to weigh!

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Old 04-30-2010, 03:38 AM   #6
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I hope you find some! I live in the southwest and have a deep love of the prickly pear. Eating some toast with prickly pear jam on it right now in fact.

+1 to a few of the above comments, by the way - Latin markets will often have prickly pear, try asking them for 'nopales'.

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Old 07-09-2010, 04:57 AM   #7
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"Nopales" or "nopalitos" are actually the flat green pads. They have a vaguely green bean type of flavor and are a bit slimy inside. I dice them up and add them to my salsa. Good stuff.

The prickly pear fruit (technically known as tunas) bud along the edges of the pads and turn bright-to-dark red when ripe, depending on the local population. Sweetness and acidity vary from region to region, as does strength of flavor. I've tried them off and on and they can be lemon sour, syrupy sweet or mild. The flavor is vaguely melonish, familiar yet hard to place. Others have compared it to dragonfruit. They grow all over the place here and will start ripening at the end of the month, so I plan on doing some harvesting.

Mexican groceries will sometimes have them. The regular supermarkets will have them around here sometime, but they're always green. I don't understand that, since the fruit won't ripen once it's picked. If you get them from the store, they ought to already have the spines removed--the fruit have tiny, hairlike spines in tufts here and there, that are awful if you get them stuck in your skin. I recommend gloves when handling. Some singe them off with an open flame, as the spines burn easily.



I always freeze my pears, as it liberates the juice and makes preparation (at least for me) easier, and aids in liberating the juice by rupturing cell walls. Wearing leather gloves, I'll chop the ends off then slice the skin down the middle and peel it off, placing the seedy pulp inside off in a bowl or somesuch. They are VERY seedy. The juice is deep maroon and will stain. I've heard others blanch the fruit for removal of the skins, but as the juice gets everywhere even when frozen, I can't imagine how sloppy messing with thawed fruit would be.

It's my understanding that the fruit need to be simmered for 30 minutes before adding to the fermentation vessel, otherwise it will foam up like the apocalypse. Not wishing to test this theory, I always simmer. Some say to boil, but as that would set the fruit pectin, I keep the temps below boiling. I mash the fruit in the pot to extract as much juice as I can, then strain it all and add to the secondary fermenter. Disappointingly, what starts out as an incredibly rich burgundy-maroon color steadily fades during aging until it's merely a soft pink blush in the mead. The flavor's delicate and hard to place--I was greatly amused by giving folks a taste and their inability to guess what fruit they were tasting.

For a six-gallon batch of sweet mead a few years back, I used 18 pounds of clover honey and 15+ pounds of prickly pears. At the time I pitched Pasteur champagne yeast because I didn't know there were better choices. I'm going to up the ratio of fruit per gallon this time around, pick a different yeast more suited to melomels, and ease back on the amount of honey, back sweetening if necessary. That first attempt was too sweet (yes, even with the Pasteur), and would've benefited from a more generous addition of tannins. I blogged about the process:

http://jlbgibberish.blogspot.com/200...ckly-mead.html
http://jlbgibberish.blogspot.com/200...d-finally.html
http://jlbgibberish.blogspot.com/200...ckly-mead.html

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Old 07-09-2010, 10:44 PM   #8
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I saw video on peeling prickly pear fruit that looked pretty easy. You hold the fruit with tongs and cut off both ends, then make a slit thru the skin from top to bottom. Insert a fillet knife or other thin bladed knife into the slit and run it around the fruit, scooping out the inside. Looked easy enough, I guess I will find out for sure when the neighbors fruit gets ripe.
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewMath View Post
I hope you find some! I live in the southwest and have a deep love of the prickly pear. Eating some toast with prickly pear jam on it right now in fact.

+1 to a few of the above comments, by the way - Latin markets will often have prickly pear, try asking them for 'nopales'.
Where did you get the prickly pear jam?
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:51 AM   #10
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Meadwitch, that's pretty much what I do. Only I use leather gloves instead of tongs, and I freeze them first because the juice really does go everywhere with fully ripe fruit. I've found blanching helps, or at least running hot water over the frozen fruit, to loosen the skin.

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