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16 responses to “How to Make Prickly Pear Syrup”

  1. Karen

    I’ve always been too afraid of the tiny hairy prickly buggers to try to eat these, but now that I know you can just burn them away. I’m hunting for prickly pears this season! Thanks for the tip and the recipe. It’s exciting to have a readily-available fruit in the desert. Thanks, Hank!

  2. Rob

    We spend a few months in south Texas every year, and one thing we do several times each visit now is harvest ripe prickly pear fruits (“tunas”), and blenderize the pulp from them for use in making margueritas. We use tongs to harvest the tunas, then scrub them a bit under running water (with gloves on)to remove the fine hairs. After that, I cut them in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard the seeds and skin (leaving just the pulp behind), and put all the pulp in a blender until it’s a smooth, purplish paste. Then just use a bit of the paste in each marguerita. The taste is great (kind of like a melon or kiwi), and the dark red/purple color always gets people’s attention!

  3. mike

    Thanks for this – I was looking at prickly pears just yesterday during a hunt, but didn’t know what to do with them.

  4. johanna

    these are, without a doubt, the best fruits of the fall/winter season (they ripen here closer to november and last on the cactus through to december..)

    i have to say though, i really prefer them raw, after skinning, and eat the seeds too-
    they are so lovely; they are also good with all the fruit pulp mashed on top of ginger or vanilla ice cream..kind of like a ‘granita’ on the ice cream..

    skinning is easy-peasy: just take a fork and stick it into the skin, run the fruit through hot water to make it less likely to get fluffy flying glochid spines on yourself, and lie it on a smooth hard surface; make a long slice in the skin, top to bottom, with a sharp steak knife and then PEEL the fruit slowly off.
    it really is easy and no trouble…

  5. Theresa

    I Put on a a double set of surgical gloves when I begin to process my fruit. First I soak the fruit well in a large bowl of water, drain, (many glochids float away)and then cover the fruits with boiling water. Wait a few minutes, drain, Trim ends, cut them in half, scoop out the centers then scrape the skins. I put all except the skins into the food processor, liquify and then pour into my yogurt strainer and refrigerate. 24 hours later I have beautiful juice and then follow the recipe in this article. This makes a most tasty syrup without extra cooking. This week I am scattering the seeds which have not been cooked, around our land for future yummy syrup. Thanks for your article.

  6. Mary

    Just a correction tequila is not made from a cactus but an agave.
    I take the whole fruit and put it in the blender with a bit of water, then strain it, thru cheese cloth. I always wear heavy rubber gloves during this process. This year we processed 5 gal. of juice to make jelly, and some which did not jell is syrup.

  7. mlaiuppa

    I’m very familiar with prickly pears. My Dad has commercial grade growing on the edge of his property as a fire break between him and the canyon. They are huge, purple fruits.

    I’m familiar with the hair like prickers too. He’s tried everything. A blowtorch. Boiling them. Or putting on leather gauntlets and using the longest tongs he could find to skin them. Still had stickers.

    But oh, the fruit. And you can eat the seeds. You don’t chew them. You mush the fruit in your mouth and then you swallow it seeds and all.

    I would love to make jelly and syrup. Didn’t know the trick with the citric acid.

    If I can manage a way to pick and peel them without the stickers, I might give it a try.

  8. Anthony Pickering

    I have made liquor by soaking a bowl of them in vodka for 2 weeks then strain then added sugar syrup, orange peel etc and makes a great little sip after meals.

  9. pat wick

    I have been processing prickly pear fruit for 5 years now – about 50 to 60 pounds… i have worked with the fruit several ways – including peeling, steaming, torching, and freezing is really great. Pick, wash and chop into a freezer bag and freeze. Remove from freezer and thaw. You get a bag of juice that can be strained and even put through a potato ricer to get it all … one full gallon freezer bag gives about 5 cups of juice. I then make the syrup, using tapioca starch (gluten free) and sugar or Xylitol, maple syrup … anykind of sugar 1/8 c. to a cup of juice .. so it is low sugar. adding at the end lemon juice and almond extract – very yummy flavor. I also add the syrup to cooked apples (the only liquid i use) and puree and then put on plastic sheets in my dehydrator and make fruit leather – a big hit with all!

  10. Terri

    Just to let readers know, you will still get the hairs in your body when you burn them. We attempted prickly pear jam this past season. Got hairs everywhere, even when I wasn’t touching them, just in the same area. We did discover a way that was more complete than the burning method. First we soaked them in warm water for a few minutes and then using a metal colander/strainer swirled them around under running warm water. The hairs came out more so than when you put them in fire.

    Sadly our attempt at jam didn’t work but we did get an awesome sweet syrup for pancakes and I will be using it on our ham for Thanksgiving.

  11. Fran

    We had *the* best prickly pear margaritas at a restaurant a while back, so after our bike ride this past weekend where I saw so many beautiful magenta cactus buds I thought I’d try myself. I’m working on straining the stuff now, and it’s gelatinous and gooey and I’m having a tough time feeling like I’ve got all the ‘good stuff.’ I don’t have a food mill or a potato ricer- any tips? I’m starting out with an old metal colander with fairly large holes for my first strain, working it with the back of a ladle, but it still seems I’m leaving so much behind. Gelatinous and gooey- anyone?

  12. Susan

    I just made this. I usually have citric acid around the house but I couldn’t find any so I used lemon.
    Now to find uses for it.
    I’m making Pears poached in wine for dessert tomorrow. thinking about using this is a drizzle.

  13. Malika

    I am from Morocco and we have always eaten the cactus fruit. They grow everywhere! I cant wait to try making this syrup.

    In case you were not aware in Morocco we also make the seeds into a fantastic oil which we use as a natural antiaging moisturiser. It is excellent for skin problems as well like Eczema. The oil is made in other countries but it just isn’t as good – but I may be biased 🙂

    But we have to use 1000KG of fruit to make just 30KG of seeds which makes 1 litre of oil!.


  14. Peejay

    @ Malika–wow, that’s fascinating (the Eczema treatment)!

    @ everyone else. I bought some prickly pears at HEB down here (San Antonio) but they are greenish. Can I still make the syrup? Thanks.

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