After buying four prickly pears this afternoon, I was searching for culinary inspiration. But after tasting a bite of them raw, it was clear: these must be sweetened somehow. My mouth is still puckered from that single bite. So I decided on jam; I skipped the lemon juice that I usually add to jam because the prickly pear seemed acidic enough.
Because the four fruits yielded surprisingly little - after being peeled and deseeded - I filled in with some fresh green figs that I had in my fridge. Toss a couple of star anise into the mix and I have a distinctive jar of jam to serve on toast this week. Delicious!
2 pounds fruit, rinsed and cubed
1 C organic turbinado sugar
3/4 C water
2 star anise pods
Place the fruit, sugar, and water into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring the jam constantly, for about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Hold the jam at a constant simmer, checking frequently to make sure the jam isn’t scorched at the bottom of the pot. After 15 minutes, check to see if your jam has set by running a wooden spoon down the middle of your jam. If the jam leaves a path, it's set. If the liquid runs back to fill the path, cook it a little bit longer. Remove the star anise. Spoon the jam into sterilized jars, leaving about a 1/2" gap to the top. Gently tap the bottom of each jar on the counter to release any air bubbles. Using a damp clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars and secure the lids and rings. Process in a water bath for 10-15 minutes. Remove the containers with tongs and let cool on the counter.
You’ll hear the sound of can tops popping shortly—a sign that a secure seal has been made. Pop, pop, pop. Or, you can refrigerate the jar without processing and use it within three weeks. Enjoy!