I’ve always wanted to make this, but every time I begin planning, something happens and before I know it the tunas (reddish/pinkish fruit of the prickly pear) get too ripe . . . not this year, though.
These tunas seem somewhat dry — they are wild harvested, so no one is watering them. Yours may be plumper if you harvest them where they’re getting more water.
Anyway, cut the tunas off using a tong and a sharp knife. Make sure you leave some for wild critters to munch on if you are wild harvesting (and make sure it’s okay to do that).
Slice the tunas in half, using a tongs to hold them with and a sharp knife.
Place them in a pot and add water. I used 6 cups tunas and 2 cups water — that’s a ratio of 3:1 or 3 times the volume tunas as water.
Let simmer until soft and juice is released. I simmered for about 20 minutes.
Then, strain tunas and juice through a sieve. The juice is very viscous, because it is from the cactus, but mine seem more viscous than normal, probably because they were a little drier than yours might be.
Pour juice again through a very fine mesh sieve lined with filter paper. You don’t want any of those tiny cactus spines in your jelly! Or mouth!
This made about 2 cups of filtered juice.
For 2 cups of tuna juice add 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 3 cups of sugar. Bring this to a boil, simmer for about 5 minutes, and then add 1 pouch of liquid pectin. * if you want to make cactus syrup, just don’t add the pectin — the cactus juice is already somewhat viscous and the consistency is good for syrup.
Stir the liquid pectin in thoroughly, then bring back to boiling, and ladle into hot prepared jars. Process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes at 5000 feet, 10 minutes at sea level. This makes about 4 half pints.
This jelly is relatively sweet, and would go well contrasted with jalapeno jelly on crackers. It’s a novelty, so you might want to package it into half cup jars and share with friends and family . . .