Saturday, September 20, 2008

Prickly Pears and Cottage Cheese

There is a wonderful article today in the Arizona Republic about prickly pears.  Late August/early September is when the prickly pear fruit is ripe, and the newspaper dedicated a page and a half to how to pick the fruit, de-sticker it, and how to eat it or juice it.

Anyone who lives in the West is familiar with prickly pear fruit, or tuna, as it's called in Spanish.  The fruits taste a little like strawberry to me, rather delicate.  Mostly, people juice them and use the nectar to make syrup, barbeque sauce, sorbets, jelly, and any number of other things.  The syrup makes great margaritas. One of the methods given in the article for extracting the juice is to put the pulp into an old pillowcase and hang it over a pot, letting the juice drip out.  

This  reminds me, oddly enough, of the way my grandmother made cottage cheese. She would spoon the curds into a clean flour sack and hang it from a hook over a bowl on her kitchen cabinet and let the whey drip out.  Then she'd break up the curds with a spoon and add cream.  Yum-ee. 

You can actually make your own cottage cheese, if you're brave.  All you need is a gallon of non-fat milk, 3/4 cup of white vinegar, salt to taste, and half a cup of cream.  Scald the milk in a steel pan (don't boil), remove from heat and slowly stir in the vinegar until the curds form.  Let it sit for half-an-hour or so, then spoon the curds into cheese cloth and let them drain over a colander for a few minutes.  Wrap the curds in the cloth and hold them under cold running water, kneading all the while, for a minute or two.  Put the curds in a bowl and salt them, then break them up into small pieces.  Keep in the fridge until you're ready to eat them, when you'll pour the cream over them.

Good luck, and enjoy.


Gayle said...

I'll have to pass your post along to my mom, Donis. She loves cottage cheese!

Donis Casey said...

Let me know how it turns out.

zhadi said...

I love prickly pear...I haven't had it in years! AH, memories...

©Hotbutton Press said...

If you want a real treat, find whole raw milk to make cottage cheese, yogurt, and mozzarella. And butter. I bought a herdshare from an organic farmer earlier in the year, and was in dairy heaven. Were I younger, I'd buy a cow of my own.