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Best Prickly Pear Recipes

Best Prickly Pear Recipes


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Top Rated Prickly Pear Recipes

Prickly pears may seem intimidating. They are covered in protective glochids for goodness sake. That simply means they have teeny tiny spikes that hurt if you touch them. The taste of the fruit is almost cotton candy meets raspberry (if you ask me) and the color is out of this world bright reddish purplish pink. I have enjoyed making shrubs, jams and cocktails with the fruit but one of my favorite things is making pie! Here I used a flakey sourdough crust with a sweet lattice top to encase the prickly pear filling. You can either make the sourdough pie crust (or use 2 store bought refrigerated pie crusts if you are in a pinch)This recipe is courtesy of Women's Heritage.

Christine Dionese, health specialist and author of The Best Craft Cocktails & Bartending with Flair, has long been suggesting prickly pear for its blood sugar lowering effects. Researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria have found in a small study that prickly pear decreased blood glucose by 11 percent.Read more about the Best Alcoholic Drinks for Your Diet.

Christine Dionese, health specialist and author of The Best Craft Cocktails & Bartending with Flair, has long been suggesting prickly pear for its blood sugar lowering effects. Researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria have found in a small study that prickly pear decreased blood glucose by 11 percent.Take a look at our Prickly Pear Mezcal Mule RecipeRead more about the Best Alcoholic Drinks for Your Diet


Prickly Pear Cactus

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I have eaten the pads sliced and cooked like green beans which is what they taste like. The slice and cooked pads were served with scrambled eggs.

Our daughter gathers the fruit in August to make jelly.

Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines. Stephen Herrod Buhner
Everyone learns what works by learning what doesn't work. Stephen Herrod Buhner

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Ralph Sluder wrote:
Use heavy gloves to avoid glochids, then I roll them around over the grill before handling. those little things can stay in your hands for weeks.

I second this. Years ago I went and collected prickly pear fruits using only a dish towel since I had no gloves. The little spines stuck with me for a long time!

“There are no words to express the abyss between isolation and having one ally. It may be conceded to the mathematician that four is twice two. But two is not twice one two is two thousand times one.”
― G. K. Chesterton


Recipe Summary

  • 8 prickly pears
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 ½ tablespoons powdered fruit pectin
  • 1 teaspoon powdered fruit pectin
  • 2 ½ cups white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons amaretto liqueur

Inspect 1 quart jar and 1 pint jar for cracks and rings for rust, discarding any that are defective. Immerse in simmering water until jam is ready. Wash new, unused lids and rings in warm soapy water.

Wear protective gloves to rub and rinse the prickly pears under running water to make sure all spines are removed. Cut each pear in half and scoop pulp and seeds into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 30 to 40 seconds. Transfer mixture to a strainer lined with cheesecloth set over a bowl. Gather cheesecloth into a pouch and squeeze out juice. Remove any remaining pulp from the seeds and add to the bowl with the juice.

Combine prickly pear juice, pectin, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil that can't be stirred down. Add sugar and amaretto and stir until completely dissolved. Return mixture to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Cook until jam is reduced by half, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove jam from heat and skim off and discard any froth that may have formed. Dip a metal spoon into the jam to test for desired thickness. Add another 1/2 teaspoon of pectin and boil for 1 minute more if a thicker jam is desired.

Pack jam into hot, sterilized jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a clean knife or thin spatula around the insides of the jars to remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims with a moist paper towel to remove any spills. Top with lids and screw rings on tightly.

Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil and lower jars 2 inches apart into the boiling water using a holder. Pour in more boiling water to cover jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil, cover, and process for 10 minutes.

Remove the jars from the stockpot and let rest, several inches apart, for 12 to 24 hours. Press the center of each lid with a finger to ensure the lid does not move up or down. Remove the rings for storage and store in a cool, dark area.


Recipe Summary

  • 1 head leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3 pears - peeled, cored and chopped
  • 5 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
  • 1 avocado - peeled, pitted, and diced
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup pecans
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a skillet over medium heat, stir 1/4 cup of sugar together with the pecans. Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper. Allow to cool, and break into pieces.

For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, avocado, and green onions. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans, and serve.


Juicy Fruit: Mexico’s Prickly Pear Cactus Fruits

In late summer in Mexico, prickly pear cactus fruits, or tunas, are everywhere—a refreshing snack eaten out of hand and a popular ingredient in candies, drinks, jams, and more. In Oaxaca, they spoon a dollop of pureed tunas on top of horchata, the milky rice-almond drink, but you can use it just about anywhere you’d use an apple—in salads, for example, or even in tarts. The cactus grows wild all over Mexico it’s also cultivated on plantations. Cactus pads, or nopales, are eaten year-round, but it’s only in summer that the fruits reach maturity. Varieties number in the hundreds, with flavor profiles ranging from creamy-sweet to brisk and tart. The dark nubs on the skin contain sharp spines, but these are easily removed by slicing off the ends of the fruit, making lengthwise incisions, and peeling back the rind to reveal the luscious flesh.

I sampled many delicious varieties when I reported this issue’s story on Zacatecan cuisine (“Mexico Feeds Me“) here are a few you might find in Mexican markets in the States: 1. The Juana (sometimes called roja) has large, chewy seeds and tart, crimson flesh. 2. The roja pelona, kiwilike in flavor, is free of thorns, and while the seeds of all tunas are edible, the ones in this variety are smaller than most. 3. The widely available cristalina, also known as zarca, is juicy and crisp, with a sweet flavor like that of a white peach. 4. The naranjona has a honey-sweet, subtly spicy flavor reminiscent of a ripe persimmon’s. 5. The wild xoconostle has a sour and chewy, edible peel that is sometimes used in savory stews. 6. The most widely available wild variety, the cardona has soft seeds and a flavor that’s both sweet and bitter, almost like a Luxardo cherry’s. 7. The cuerno de venado has a floral flavor its high water content and small seed size make it a favorite snacking tuna. 8. The yellow platanera has a tropical flavor like that of bananas, the fruit from which it takes its name.

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Prickly Pear Jelly

Prickly pear jelly is a real treat, and lets you have a taste of the dessert anywhere in the world. The fruit have a distinctive taste that’s hard to describe, warm and earthy but also a bit tropical.

I grew up picking prickly pears in my grandfather’s backyard for fun. We’d play with them, but I never knew you could eat them. I don’t come from a family of cooks, let alone jelly makers. The first time I made prickly pear jelly I was already living clear across the country in the northeast, far from the land of cactus.

Even up here in Vermont, grocery stores will often carry prickly pears as a novelty, next to the dragon fruit and kiwano melons. They keep surprisingly well, and I’ll admit I forgot about these prickly pears on the counter for 2 weeks before I started a batch of prickly pear jelly, but they were still good as the day they were picked inside.

Start by peeling the prickly pears. The skin is a distinct layer on the outside and it comes away easily. Cut off the top and bottom, and then slice through the exterior peel lengthwise. From there, gently peel away the outside peel. Here’s a pictorial tutorial on peeling prickly pear if you need it. Once they’re peeled, slice them into smaller pieces before placing them in a saucepan with water to cover.

The sliced inside of a prickly pear fruit. The black dots are tiny, very hard seeds that need to be filtered out of the final prickly pear jelly.

Simmer the prickly pear fruits in water for about an hour, adding water as needed to cover. Occasionally stir and use a spoon to try to break up the fruits and increase the surface area. That helps extract the juice.

After an hour, pour the prickly pear pulp and juice through a fine mesh strainer. You should have around 1/2 cup of juice for each fruit. It’s important to note that the pH of prickly pear juice is way too high for canning, and you’ll need to add quite a bit of lemon juice to bring it into a safe range for canning.

If you’re not canning the prickly pear jelly, don’t worry about it. Add a few tablespoons for flavor since acid will help bring out the flavor of the fruit, but there’s no need to drastically increase the acidity for a fridge preserve.

Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice or 2 teaspoons citric acid for every cup of prickly pear juice. This is important, and prickly pear jelly is not safe for canning without either lemon juice or citric acid added.

Measure the juice and add 1 cup of sugar for each cup of juice. I’ve seen some recipes calling for as much as 3 cups of sugar per cup of juice, and I find that toxically sweet. A single cup is already very sweet, bordering on cloying and I can’t see adding more. If you have a serious sweet tooth, maybe consider adding more, but be sure to taste it first.

Pour the juice and most of the sugar back into a saucepan and bring it to a boil on the stove once again. Save about 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup of sugar to the side to mix with the pectin (if you’re using powdered pectin).

Simmer the juice and sugar for about 5 minutes before adding pectin. Prickly pears don’t contain their own pectin, and if you want a jelly it has to be added. Otherwise, you just have prickly pear syrup, which is tasty in its own right.

I’m using Pomona’s Universal Pectin to thicken this batch of prickly pear jelly, and it’s added in powdered form which lets you easily scale up and down based on batch size. It’s also not dependent on sugar to gel, which makes it great for low sugar jams.

This isn’t a low sugar recipe by any stretch of the imagination, but if you do want to make a low sugar prickly pear jelly using 1/2 or even 1/4 cup of sugar to a cup of juice it’ll work with this pectin.

For Pomona’s pectin, I add 1/2 tsp powdered pectin and 1/2 tsp calcium water (included with pectin package) for every cup of juice. The pectin powder needs to be mixed with a tiny bit of sugar, and I always try to remember to save 1/4 cup off to the side to mix in the pectin powder. Often enough I forget, and the batch gets another 1/4 cup of sugar…so it goes.

For other types of pectin, most consider a “batch” of jelly to be 4 cups of juice, and a tube of liquid pectin thickens will that much liquid, but be sure to check the instructions on the type you’re using.

After adding pectin, simmer the prickly pear jelly for about 2 more minutes to help activate the pectin. At that point, it’s time to pour it into prepared canning jars. Fill the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top and seal with 2 part canning lids.

Process prickly pear jelly in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes, ensuring that the tops of the lids are at least 1 inch below the water line. Remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool completely before checking seals.

Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator for immediate use. Sealed jars will keep at room temperature, and maintain good quality for 12-18 months.


Prickly Pear Seed Oil Recipes

Tried to find a good DIY Prickly Pear Seed Oil Serum recipe online… Honestly, I was stunned to find very little! So, I’m going to include 2 different serum recipes I’ve created and have been using:

ANTI-AGING FACE SERUM

Directions:

Apply several drops on your face before bed/in the morning and allow a few minutes for the oil to completely absorb into the skin. A great face serum also work as an awesome makeup primer cause it gives your makeup something to stink on to.

Benefits:

Jojoba oil is one of the most easily absorbed by the skin cause its the closest thing to your skins natural oil (sebum.) Geranium and lavender essential oils have for centuries been used by woman to repair skin. Mixing these 3 natural ingredients with a high quality prickly pear oil will be your new anti-aging arsenal for years to come.

Expiry date: use within 6 months after blending

UNDER-EYE BRIGHTENING SERUM

Directions:

Before bed, drop a few drops on your finger and gently apply it around your eye (get those blasted crows-feet too!) Obviously don’t get it in your eyes please… A little goes a long way with this serum

Benefits:

I chose rose-hip carrier oil because it’s a known anti-inflammatory and has the effect to rejuvenate skin, help with swelling, inflammation and bolster capillaries. Anyone with under eye wrinkles, circles, swelling- this will be a warm welcome that has the ability to replace all your other expensive high end treatments.


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The recipe is good and it does work!

Thanks for posting! I’m off to give it a try!

We have the treasure chest of this stuff! Made some this weekend…anyone have an idea what the refrigerated shelf life might be?

Did you can it? If so, it will last a long time–many months. If not, it should last as long as any open jar of jelly would in the fridge.

We did not can the Prickly Pear Jelly – well, turned into more of a syrup really. We’re trying it on all kinds of stuff as a replacement for honey.

Any luck or ideas for a way to reduce the slime factor you get from this fruit?

This was great! Great result. I might try a little less sugar and a mix with mint next time.

Easiest way to juice the cactus fruit is to put them in the freezer. When they thaw they just fall apart into a mush and can easily be mashed and juiced as describe above with no cooking. The less handling of these thorny devils, the better!

Thanks for the freezing tip–I’ll give that a try when the fruit is ripe–soon!

Ooooh! We’re gonna eat so lekka!

I’ve been looking for recipes and yours came up. Most say that I need to do the “wax” thing to the jars…add the melted wax. I am downloading Balls instructions, but can you tell me if that’s necessary in your recipe?
Thanks!

Why did my jelly turn honey colored after the water bath canning? It was a beautiful purpley pink when I ladeled it into the jars. Also, can I use lime juice instead of lemon? Thanks for any help you can provide.

Anonymous, I guess I got to say I don’t know. Perhaps another reader can answer your questions. My prickly pear fruit is orange colored and I haven’t noticed any fade. As for substituting lime juice, I also don’t know. With canning, I like to stick to the recipe.

Someone mentioned to roll fruit over gravel and the spines will come fall off. Is August the best month to pick fruit because ours look ready now and the critters are eating them?

How many ounces of jelly does this recipe make? It says use 8 oz jars but how many jars does it produce?

I got 7 1/2 pint jars from this recipe.

I know that this post has been up for a while… but I found this last year and have since made 68 pints of this jelly. It is an incredible find! This Saturday we will make an estimated 140-160 pints. I do have some tips/tricks that I have learned along the way that will help to answer some of the questions above.

I picked them with bbq tongs and dumped them into a large tub where I swished them around to wash them and break off the spines. I definitely wore gloves but it worked out very well for me. I didn’t burn them off because I wanted to get any bird presents/bugs off of them before I canned them.

I did cook them on a slow boil for 15-20 minutes to make them softer and then ran them through the blender. Yes, the blender. I strained the pulp out through a variety of methods- cheese cloth, strainer, pantyhose… and the one that worked the best for me was pantyhose (new of course). I put a few ladle fulls in the foot, twisted it around and squished out the juice. Out of 15ish pounds of fruit I got 22.5 cups of juice. It was a lot of work but it was definitely worth it. (btw- the left over pulp is great in the garden or compost pile)

For the jelly turning brown:

I had two batches that turned brown on me. They were always the last batch of the day and the ones that I was the most tired while making. I over cooked it just a bit too long or didn’t remove it from the hot burner when I was putting it in the jars- so it cooked longer. Cooking time was my brown jelly culprit.

For the batch that turned out as syrup:

I really thought about reprocessing that batch- but in the end I just left it alone. We used it as syrup on pancakes and French toast, ice cream topping and… well… jelly. It turned out great and everyone really liked it. In fact, this year, I have had two requests from my friends for the jelly and the syrup. Now, if I could do it on purpose I would be set…. umm…. unset?

This was really more a personal preference than a requirement. I know someone who is allergic to lemons but not limes (who knew that was possible)- so I replaced the lemon juice with lime juice in the last few batches. It made just a slight change in the taste in a pleasant way and I really liked it better than with lemon. Y’all might find it good to try.

Thanks for the recipe- I don’t think that my family would know what to do without the cactus jelly!

I know that this post has been up for a while… but I found this last year and have since made 68 pints of this jelly. It is an incredible find! This Saturday we will make an estimated 140-160 pints. I do have some tips/tricks that I have learned along the way that will help to answer some of the questions above.

I picked them with bbq tongs and dumped them into a large tub where I swished them around to wash them and break off the spines. I definitely wore gloves but it worked out very well for me. I didn’t burn them off because I wanted to get any bird presents/bugs off of them before I canned them.

I did cook them on a slow boil for 15-20 minutes to make them softer and then ran them through the blender. Yes, the blender. I strained the pulp out through a variety of methods- cheese cloth, strainer, pantyhose… and the one that worked the best for me was pantyhose (new of course). I put a few ladle fulls in the foot, twisted it around and squished out the juice. Out of 15ish pounds of fruit I got 22.5 cups of juice. It was a lot of work but it was definitely worth it. (btw- the left over pulp is great in the garden or compost pile)

For the jelly turning brown:

I had two batches that turned brown on me. They were always the last batch of the day and the ones that I was the most tired while making. I over cooked it just a bit too long or didn’t remove it from the hot burner when I was putting it in the jars- so it cooked longer. Cooking time was my brown jelly culprit.

For the batch that turned out as syrup:

I really thought about reprocessing that batch- but in the end I just left it alone. We used it as syrup on pancakes and French toast, ice cream topping and… well… jelly. It turned out great and everyone really liked it. In fact, this year, I have had two requests from my friends for the jelly and the syrup. Now, if I could do it on purpose I would be set…. umm…. unset?

This was really more a personal preference than a requirement. I know someone who is allergic to lemons but not limes (who knew that was possible)- so I replaced the lemon juice with lime juice in the last few batches. It made just a slight change in the taste in a pleasant way and I really liked it better than with lemon. Y’all might find it good to try.

Thanks for the recipe- I don’t think that my family would know what to do without the cactus jelly!

Darn it, this recipe didn’t jell. I followed it to the letter too.
grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
The only explanation for me is the pectin expired on April 2, 2009 and to date this is August 17th, 2009.


Boudro's Famous Prickly Pear Margarita Recipe

San Antonio is known for many things, from The Alamo and the River Walk to the Energizer Bunny of successful NBA franchises, the Spurs. One would be remiss to travel to this Texas-favorite destination and not sample what could be its signature drink, the Prickly Pear Margarita from Boudro's.

Boudro's is a group-friendly staple on the River Walk.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 3/4 cup, tequila
  • 1/2 cup, triple sec
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup
  • 1 cup of fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup of prickly pear cactus juice
  • 1 blender full of ice
  • 1 lime (cut into 6 wedges)

Instructions

Simple syrup: Combine white sugar and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and stir. Once the sugar is fully dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool. The resultant liquid can be stored in a plastic squeeze bottle, which makes it an easy way to add to cocktails. The ratio of sugar to water can be left to personal preference, although traditionally it is one part water to two parts sugar.

Pour all ingredients (except the cactus pear juice) into the blender. You will need a powerful electric blender that can chop up the ice. Turn on the blender and then successively add more ice and blend until it has a sorbet-like consistency. Pour into a cocktail glass, pour the prickly pear puree on top and add a lime wedge.

Grab some friends and enjoy a fresh batch of Boudro's Prickly Pear Margaritas!


Prickly Pear Candy

Prickly Pear fruit is one of those rear fruits that grows wild on the side of many roads (and therefore potentially free), is chock-full of nutrients… and is completely ignored by most of us. But everyone likes candy, so here is a great Prickly Pear Candy recipe.

There are many species of Opuntia, native to the Americas. The fruit of this cactus family is commonly referred to as Prickly Pear but is also known as Tuna. The fruits flesh can range from a deep purple to a light yellow-pink color. The fruit contains tiny seeds and perhaps that is why many people shy away from them, but they are tiny and usually just swallowed, like a pomegranate seed.

I was visiting friends in Albuquerque recently and their side yard was covered with these beautiful, ripe fruits. As you can see, this variety’s cladodes, or Nopales, are super spiny so I don’t think they picked them often as many were hard to reach. They seemed quite happy for me to take what I wanted so I grabbed what was within reach and headed home with a bag full. (The best way to pull these off, by the way, is with a pair of tongs and just gently twist them off. The fruits themselves have hairlike spines called glochids and trust me, you do not want those stuck in your skin!)

For the candy, you’ll need about one pound of fruit to get one cup of juice. (You can reduce or double this recipe.) I start by cutting the Prickly Pear in half then scoop the fruit out of the skin using tongs and a spoon. But you can also try to scrub any lingering glochids off in the sink. (I’ve heard you can also singe them off by placing them over a burner on your stove but I haven’t tried that yet myself.)

Throw the scooped out fruit into a blender and puree, then strain out the seeds.

Add the applesauce into a pan, then add the puree and mix.

In a bowl, whisk one cup of sugar with the pectin then add to the fruit mixture. Once the fruit starts to boil, add in the rest of the sugar.

You’ll want to stir constantly while waiting for it to come to temperature, then remove from heat.

Pour the mixture into a greased glass pan. I used a 9吉. If you want thicker pieces, use a smaller pan. After its cooled down, add a sprinkling of sugar on top.

Let set over night, or about 12 hours, then slice into one inch pieces. Place in a baggie of sugar, a few at a time, and shake to coat.

Allow them more time to dry after this. Although you can dig in at this point, I dry them for two more days, rotating occasionally. Store in an airtight jar for a few weeks. (I sent some to my friends in Albuquerque as a hostess/thank you gift. These would also make a great homemade holiday present.)


Del Estroibo

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 ounce white rum, preferably Uruapan Charanda
  • 2/3 ounce prickly pear syrup (see Editor’s Note)
  • 1/3 ounce toasted corn syrup (see Editor’s Note)
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 2 dashes green Chartreuse

Garnish: sprig of mint, lime wheel

Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin and shake with ice.
  2. Strain into a highball glass over crushed ice.
  3. Garnish with sprig of mint and lime wheel.
Editor's Note

Prickly Pear Syrup:
15 ounces prickly pear pureé
425 grams white sugar
1 ounce water
15 grams citric acid

Blitz all ingredients in blender for approximately 30 seconds until fully incorporated and smooth.

Toasted Corn Syrup:
1 cup salted corn nuts, such as Quicos
2 cups boiling water
425 grams white sugar

Infuse corn nuts for 30 minutes. Add white sugar and blend all together until smooth on low speed in a blender. Strain through a nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer.