cactus on fresh garden

The Opuntia lindheimeri, more commonly known as the prickly pear cactus, is a great choice for making a succulent cactus wine. This cactus grows in abundance in the American southwest and blooms a reddish purple fruit in fall, which gives off a sweet, watermelon-like essence when peeled. The fruit is what the wine is made from in a traditional--but uniquely western--wine-making process.

Boil one gallon of water in a large pot and place the cactus fruit in a large bowl. Pour the water over the fruit and wait a few minutes before draining out the water.

Wait until the cactus fruit cools completely (about 20 minutes). Peel the skin off of the fruit, using extreme care not to touch the cactus spines, and place the fruit on a cutting board.

Cut the fruit into one-inch pieces and place them in the large pot. Add 1/2 gallon of water and bring the fruit to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium to generate a steady boil for no more than 15 minutes. Cover the pot and allow sufficient time for it to cool down to room temperature.

Hold the large mesh bag over one of the five gallon buckets and pour all of the remaining fruit and juice into the bag. Compress and squeeze the bag until all juice has poured into the fermentation bucket. Stir in the acid blend, sugar and wine yeast with nutrient. Stir the mixture until all sugar has dissolved.

Cover the bucket securely and store it in a warm area for one week. Check and stir the mixture daily. After seven days it will be time to rack the wine and add water.

Rack or siphon the wine sediment (lees) off of wine into the other bucket and add water until full. Cover the new bucket securely and let stand for 21 days. (You now can clean and discard remaining sediment from the original bucket and use it for racking later). Repeat this process, and then repeat once more after another 60 days.

Clean the remaining sediment from the wine and repeat step 6 once more if needed. Bottle the wine and let it sit in a dark, slightly humid area for one year. Taste the wine after 365 days to sample or allow more time for better aging and quality.