Passing Pleasures: Prickly Pear Tepache

september 2009 039

This fizzy, festive fuschia drink gets its color and flavor from a really local fruit, the tuna, or prickly pear fruit. Here in New Mexico you probably have some in your yard, and if you don’t, a neighbor probably does.

The basic directions are the same as for plain tepache. Pick, beg, or borrow eight tunas the size of an egg or bigger. Handle them with respect, because the wicked little prickles will make you itch and burn for days if you let them at your skin. Handle them with gloves. If you already know how to peel them with pliers or have someone to show you how, then peel them. Otherwise, throw them in the blender whole and crush to a puree, adding a little water if you have to in order to get the blender going. Pour the puree into a strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth. Now, twist the cheesecloth closed and press it with a spatula or wooden spoon to release the juice. Don’t omit the cheesecloth, since the strainer alone won’t get the prickles out, and don’t squeeze the cheesecloth with your hands. You should end up with 1.5 to 2 cups of prickly pear juice. Now make tepache according to the directions I gave earlier in the summer (click here to get the directions) but add the prickly pear juice to the fermenting jar with the other ingredients. The other quantities stay the same, including the pineapple rind, which provides the wild yeasts that do the fermenting. Ferment according to the directions. The flavor of the tunas is accentuated by the fermenting process and will be dominant in the finished drink. Pour and toast the exhilarating autumn weather.

 

According to an article from Texas A&M, the antioxidants quercetin and kaempherol were found in prickly pear fruit, as well as other antioxidants. The link is below if you want to read more.  Personally, I think the important thing about antioxidants is to get a lot of different ones, not by taking pills but by eating more fruits and vegetables (or, in this case, drinking them.)

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T6R-4BG8TR7-3&_user=6865397&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1027331814&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=6865397&md5=67b4ea1bcff5a8121ec6c61beea769b7.

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