I remember watching the Flintstones when I was a kid and seeing Fred frequently quaff something called cactus juice. Little did I know you really can make a beverage from cactus fruits. This is the time of year when the prickly pears ripen. They grow all over the place in Austin and can be found at almost any grocery store for give-away prices. Prickly pears are packed with flavour & minerals but have hardly any calories. I think I am addicted to this perfect summer treat.
Recipe follows the break
This is my take on the traditional agua fresca.
4 or 5 prickly pears
juice from 2 limes
1 cup or more or less of any fruit (melon, cherries, berries, pineapple etc)
I just use whatever fruit is handy or needs to be used up.
Enough water to just cover the fruit in a blender
To prepare the prickly pear begin by removing the skin or cutting the fruit in half and scooping out the fruit with a spoon. Be wary. Even if you do not see any visible prickles there can be tiny irritating spines called glochids that can cause some discomfort. You can avoid them by wearing gloves when handling the outside of the fruit. If you do get the glochids embedded into your skin you can use white glue to remove them. Just smear the glue on, let it dry and then pull the dried glue up. I haven’t tried this myself but people swear it works.
Put the prickly pear pulp (not the skins) into a blender and just cover the fruit with some water. Blend it until smooth. Strain this liquid to remove the seeds.
Put the strained prickly pear back into the blender, add the companion fruit and lime juice and blend it up a second time.
I fill a glass with ice, pour in some cactus juice to the halfway point and top with ginger ale or club soda. If the sugar and sodium in the soda is a concern it also tastes fine just cut with cold water.