Prickly Pear Chia Jam

So you know by now that we ordered our first basket from a local produce co-op in town last week. Part of the fun in these baskets is that you are introduced to new fruits and vegetables that you would never have normally tried had you just ran into it in the produce section of the grocery store. In our basket was a slew of prickly pears. 

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I had fun trying to figure out what this fruit was at first (since I had never seen one) and with the help of some friends figured it out. I decided since there are an abundance of seeds inside I would just use the juice for something else. 

They're called "prickly" pears because straight off the cactus they have lots of tiny thorns on them. Most found in grocery stores are already cleaned of these thorns and should be safe to handle. They are most commonly found in Mexican grocery stores, natural grocery stores and farmers markets. 

Now, making jam with chia seeds has got to be the easiest thing on this planet. If you haven't had chia seeds, you need to pick some up on your next trip to the grocery store for sure. They are a superfood seed that becomes gelatinous when wet, making them perfect for smoothie bowls, custards, and they show up in quite a few paleo desserts and breakfasts. We love to use them as a substitute for bread crumbs these days, throw them on top of a salad or in with granola before baking. I love easy nutrition, don't you? 

Yields: About 1 cup jam

Ingredients:

6 ripe prickly pears (the more red the better)

3 tablespoons chia seeds

Start by slicing the ends off each prickly pear. Take your knife and slice the skin long ways, not penetrating the entire fruit but just through the thick skin. Peel back the skin until all of it is off -- it should come off pretty easily. 

Holding a fine mesh sieve over a bowl, place the prickly pears into the sieve. Use a potato smasher to mash them up, squeezing as much liquid out as possible. If you're having trouble with getting all the liquid out, try simmering on low heat in a small pot. Heat loosens up the flesh and brings out the juices. :)

Discard the seeds and pulp and you're left with a deliciously sweet juice! I thought about adding sugar, but the juice was just so sweet, it didn't need any at all. Add juice to a small mason jar along with the chai seeds and stir. Allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight. 

So far we've enjoyed this in our oatmeal and on english muffins! It'd be fabulous in a smoothie as well! Enjoy your exotic little treat and let me know if you have other easy jam favorites! I'm kind of liking making my own.