How to Eat Prickly Pear

Nick Musica
Published Mar 15, 2021. Read time: 1 minute

Get ready for a fruit that’s as delicious as it is beautiful! Prickly pears are the fruit of the opuntia genus of cacti. They’re shaped a bit like an upside down pear and have a thick, leathery skin that’s similar in texture to the cactus from which it grows. They’re beloved for their honey sweet  flavor and bold, orange, magenta and ruby colored flesh.

Prickly pear fruit has a uniquely sweet and earthy flavor. It tastes of soft red berries with hints of watermelon and cucumber. The texture of their flesh is similar to a cross between melon and dragon fruit, and is often orange, deep maroon or magenta in color. At their peak ripeness, prickly pears have a pleasant berry fragrance that makes for an exceptional fruit experience!

Once you add prickly pears to your fruitine, you’ll be adding them to just about everything! Enjoy raw prickly pear as a snack, in salads, or stir it into yogurt and granola. Concoct creative compotes, sauces, sorbets and jellies with fresh prickly pear fruit and juice. Your cocktails, mocktails, teas and fresh juices will experience a serious upgrade with this nutritious fruit. 

These fruits get their name, in part, for their prickly spikes found covering the skin in tiny nodes. Take extra care when handling specialty prickly pears, as they may still have some of those fine needles! How to prepare your prickly pear will depend on the recipe you’re using. Here are the most common ways to prepare prickly pear for just about any recipe.

To prepare a prickly pear for eating, first remove the inedible peel with its tiny, sharp barbs. If the spikes haven’t already been removed, wear kitchen gloves to protect your hands when handling this fruit. Begin by slicing off the top and bottom ¼ inch of the fruit. Then, score the rind lengthwise and use your fingers to easily peel it away from the succulent fruit at the center. From here, it can be eaten out of hand, sliced, juiced or cooked.

The prickly pear packs a fruity punch! Enjoy them raw, baked into desserts, candied or used in flavorful, fresh dishes. Prickly pear is particularly well suited for jams, candies, salads, frozen desserts, sauces and salsas. They have small, hard seeds throughout the flesh that can be separated by pushing the fruit through a mesh sieve. Any way you slice ‘em, there are countless ways to eat prickly pear!

Prickly pears bring beautiful color and earthy, berry-like flavor to all kinds of beverages. Puree the fruit to separate the hard seeds, then add it to fresh juices, tea, water, or cocktails. Here are some easy ways use prickly pear in your drinks:

  • Juicing: First, remove prickly pear fruit from the peel before juicing. Then, simply feed the pulp into your juicer for a sweet and earthy, ruby colored juice. Prickly pear tastes great with other produce like watermelon, ginger, kale, spinach and cucumber.
  • Smoothies: Whether you have leftover prickly pear or want to use a whole prickly pear in smoothies, we recommend freezing it for best use. To prepare your prickly pear for smoothies, remove it from the peel and slice the fruit into one inch chunks. Freeze them on a cookie sheet with space in between each piece. Once frozen, store them in an airtight container in the freezer. You can easily pop frozen prickly pear cubes into smoothies!
  • Cocktails: Prickly pear brings bold color and sweet, earthy flavor to cocktails. Add a twist to margaritas and cosmos, or add a dash to spirit-forward beverages. Use your prickly pears to make a basic syrup for colorful cocktails and mocktails.

To keep prickly pears freshest longest, it’s best to store them in an airtight container in the fridge where they’ll last for up to five days. They can be left on the countertop for two or three days.

To freeze prickly pear, wait until they are fully ripened. Remove the rinds and lay the prickly pear fruit on a cookie sheet with space between each piece. Once frozen, store the fruit in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.

Do you feel like a prickly pear eating expert now? Show us your favorite ways to prepare and eat prickly pear by tagging us in your culinary masterpieces on Instagram @Fruitstandcom!


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