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
- 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.