We've been kind of quiet about this one. I wasn't sure quite what to expect. Now that it's made, and I've had the chance to try it myself, I'm confident it's going to be a hit.
We've talked about making a prickly pear soap for as long as I can remember, the excuse for not doing it being, "I've heard it's a lot of work..." Well, most things worth doing are a lot of work. And let me just tell you, it was so worth it. This soap is awesome.
Mark, on one of his many travels, called me and said "It's prickly pear season! Should I grab some?"
"For what?" I pondered.
"Margaritas. Soap. Margarita soap?"
And so it began. However, I did not expect him to show up with a very large crate's worth of ripe prickly pears, although I should have.
I didn't realize at the time that I was in for a 3-day task and some very pink, very prickly fingers.
We armed ourselves with some heavy duty gloves and knocked off all the spines under cold running water. I then ran the fruit through a food processor, dumped the resulting sludge into a mesh bag, and squeezed all the juice out.
We now have approximately 10 gallons of prickly pear juice. I figure about half that will go towards soap, and the other half towards margaritas, of course.
Speaking of, our new favorite drink is a margarita made with a splash of prickly pear juice, and Bacanora. Your favorite tequila will do, but if you haven't tried Bacanora you are so missing out. It's technically a mezcal, not a tequila, and carries an earthy, smokey flavor reminiscent of scotch.
On day 3 of this prickly pear madness, I separated the seeds from the fruit pulp, and spread them out to dry. I wasn't sure what my plan was yet, but I knew I couldn't let them go to waste.
I eventually realized they'd make a great exfoliant in soap, if ground to a fine powder. In my research on prickly pear I learned the seeds are rich in vitamin E, and the oil extracted from the seeds has fantastic skin benefits. It's also exorbitantly expensive.
I ran some seeds through a coffee grinder, and to my surprise, they didn't turn to a fine powdery dust, but more of a dry paste. The smell was nutty, toasty and rich--a bit hard to pin down, but similar to fresh baked bread.
And if you'd like a refreshing drink to accompany your soap, try this: