At this time of year, the Maltese countryside (if you can still find any) is teeming with ripe prickly pears, the majority of which fall to their untimely death on our roads to be trampled by traffic.
Apart from being great local plants to grow, they’re also delicious, ubiquitous and free. Here’s a recipe and a few tips on how to bypass the two main reasons the younger generations have foregone this traditional fruit: the spines and the pips.
To find out how to deal with these, scroll to the end!
- 8 prickly pears (any colour will do – mine are orange, though pink sorbet will look good too)
- ¾ cup carob syrup (for an extra patriotic sorbet)
- 2 limes
1. Pulse the peeled prickly pears and carob syrup in a food processor a few times. Don’t overdo this.
2. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a large bucket.
3. Add the juice and zest of the limes to taste.
4. Pour the liquid into an ice-cream machine and churn for about an hour. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and leave for another hour till firm.
5. If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, worry not. Pour into a freezer- safe container and leave for about four hours, mixing it manually when you feel like it (5 times in four hours should suffice).
Dealing with spines and pips:
Pick them from your favourite valley or neighbour’s field using tongs. I bashed them off the tree into a bag with an umbrella on the way home from work, but tongs will work better.
Without touching them, rub them roughly with a broom to get rid of the larger spines and then, using tongs, transfer them into a large bowl of water and mix vigorously. You’ll see the tiny spines floating to the surface.
Transfer to a chopping board (again, using tongs, or heavy duty gloves) and remove the ends with a sharp knife. Make a shallow slit from one end to the other and peel the skin off.
Rinse all equipment thoroughly using running water. You have been warned.
To avoid pips, make sorbet.