At the moment it is autumn here in Melbourne which is harvest time. In between processing about 30kg of chestnuts we wild picked, drying apples, making cider, and bacon, freezing and bottling fruits. Getting the winter garden in and preparing the mushroom boxes I was given a box of prickly pear.
I processed most of the fruit into syrup. Froze the rest as either juice or in packs of 10 for later use.
But I had something special in mind for the last of them.
I am lucky I have travelled a lot over the years and so has my family and one of my uncles and aunts had come back from a trip to Malta raving about the local liqueur made from these delicately flavoured fruits.
So I spent about an hour trying to find a recipe for bajtra liqueur. And to my surprise I was unable to find a recipe for it … Something had escaped the power of Google. Shock horror. All I could find was references to it being made with local wild sage honey. I did however find a recipe for prickly pear liqueur made with sugar syrup so thought hell why not try a variant.
Basically I put a bottle of vodka (about 750ml) and 15 peeled and chopped prickly pear into a bowl. Covered it in several layers of cling wrap and left it for 15 days. At the end when I opened up the wrap the vodka had taken on the flavour of the pears but was over powering their subtle musky flavour.
I made up sugar syrup mix and a honey syrup mix and combined them with the vodka as shown below. The flavour was greatly enhanced the muskiness came out with the sweetness and as my neighbour and I sat and drank a few of these over some goats cheese and locally smoked Croatian prosciutto we decided that yes this was definitely a drink ice cold on warm afternoon. My favourite was definitely the honey syrup variety but both are very, very good.
The only thing I am trying now is to put some orange rind into a bottle as when I made the prickly pear syrup I used a little citric acid to enhance the flavour and I am hoping the peel will have a similar effect. I might also try some cointreau with it as a cocktail. Lots of options.
Oh and I will get back to everyone on how adding orange peel goes with the both types. If nothing else it will give me more reason to drink some more. It is only experimenting I promise you…
Soak is a bottle of vodka (750ml or roughly 3 cups) and with 15 or so prickly pear for 10 -20 days. You will end up with around 6 cups or so of flavoured vodka at the end.
Drain the mix through a fine sieve leaving the pulp to drain for a few minutes then using the back of the spoon to get the last of the liquid out.
Make up a sugar syrup being 2 cups of water and 2 cups of white sugar heated until the sugar fully dissolves . Allow to cool.
I made up a honey syrup by mixing 1 cup of honey with one cup of water heating it until the honey is fully dissolved. Allow to cool.
Mix every cup of the vodka solution with a cup of sugar syrup or a cup of honey syrup. I made up 4 cups of vodka mix with my sugar syrup above and made 2 cups of the vodka mix with two cups of the honey mix. Stir so it mixes lightly and put into sterilised bottles.
Serve as chilled as you can without freezing.