How to Pick and Prepare Prickly Pear Extract

This Prickly Pear Extract is the perfect base for several recipes I have coming!

I had never heard of a Prickly Pear Tuna, let alone eating one. I had always seen the beautiful prickly pear cactuses growing on the side of the road growing up. The beautiful pink fruit with the blooming flowers. However, as I started this page and researching food that grows in the wild, besides meat, prickly pear came up. The spikey plant can be used more than just for nopales, which is common to many restaurants around San Antonio.

Once I had learned about this deep pink fruit and when they become ripe, mid to late August, I was determined to find them and make recipes. I was surprised, upon starting my job at Vulcan, that our plant was covered in them. My husband and I spent a Saturday picking the tunas and filled 2 massive brown bags with them!

Some helpful tips for picking this fruit are:

  • Gloves are so important. I cannot emphasize this enough. I thought I could do it without them… I was so wrong.
  • As much as this fruit may look like you can grab them… you cannot. They have tiny invisible thorns called glochids, that will wreck your day if you grab them. Tongs and gloves, my friend. Tongs and gloves.
  • Canvas or Brown Paper bag or bucket. You need a bag that the thorns will not go through, or your clothes and car will have an unwelcomed surprise in them.
  • When you grab them with the tongs, grab them and twist. The riper they are, the easier they are to remove.

You can remove the thorns by burning them off with a flame. I did this the first time and found that the boiling process removes them along with straining the juice twice. Why waste time?

This recipe is a bit in depth, but it is worth it. I can’t wait for y’all to see my other recipes that utilize the juice! Enjoy!

Prickly Pear Extract
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5 from 3 votes

Prickly Pear Extract

The base extract from a prickly pear that I use to turn into jelly and put into lemonade!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes
Course: Precursor
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Extract, Prickly Pear
Servings: 5 32 oz jars
Author: Sophie May


  • 5.5 lbs prickly pear fruit
  • water enough to cover fruit in pot


  • Clean your prickly pear off under running water. Don't touch them unless you've burned off the glochids.
  • Put the cleaned off prickly pear into a pot and fill it with water until it barely covers the top of the fruit.
  • Bring the pot to a boil.
  • Let the fruit boil until the fruit has lost its color, slightly mashing the fruit. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes. The remaining water should be a deep reddish orange purple. I test this using a white cup.
  • Remove any scum that comes to the top as you boil.
  • Remove the fruit from the pot and throw away.
  • If you want to maximize your extract amount you can squeeze the fruit to get every last ounce out. I use a potato masher to do this in a separate bowl and then drain the extra liquid back into the pot.
  • After the fruit has been removed, strain your extract twice. Strain it the first time through a strainer to remove any seeds and remaining glochid.
  • Strain a second time with a cotton cloth or a cheese cloth over your strainer. This should get all remaining impurities out of your extract.
  • Put your extract in a refrigerator safe bowl or jar or can the extract and store it in your pantry for future use.
  • This is the basic extract I used to make my jelly and lemonade recipes.


    • Hi Rachel!
      I am working on getting them both up on the website now! I will be posting them on social media in the upcoming weeks as well! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

    • 1. Boil enough water to cover your mason jar and lid. This will sterilize it. When extract is ready to be removed from heat, carefully remove mason jar and lid.
      2. Carefully pour extract into the mason jar (I used a wide mouth funnel).
      3. Place lid on and turn over the jar. Leave upside down for 10 minutes.
      4. This will seal the jar and allow you to store it in the pantry/counter/etc. Let it cool down and then store it wherever!

      • What is the time for the waterbath? Or are u saying boil fruit till done place in jars and let seal? Also where did u find this information iv been looking for juice preservation for over a year and can’t find it? Extension office? Grandma? Thanks in advanced.

  1. 5 stars
    Hello I am really worried I have many health problems.. now just got a problem…. I am diabetic… I met someone in grocery store who told me about this prickly pear dose it really help with health problems

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