Prickly pears are delicious on the inside but vicious on the outside. Here's how to get past their prickly exterior and into their sweet, succulent soul.
You'll need kitchen tongs, a sharp knife, a fork, a cutting board, a big bowl, a plate, and a food mill.
You'll probably also want some tweezers or duct tape on hand to remove the inevitable hairy thorns that will get stuck in your skin despite your best efforts.
Step 1: Use Tongs to Get the Prickly Pears Off the Cactus
The cactus itself is dangerous with its sharp needle-like thorns. But the fruits are really nasty, looking so coy and friendly with fuzzy dots on them. Those fuzzy dots are actually zillions of hair-like thorns that will sneak into your skin like shards of glass. Trust me, you don't want to touch them.
There are a few ways to get the fruits off the cactus. You could wear thick gardening gloves, but the problem with that is that your gloves will then be covered with insidious hair-thorns that will attack you next time you touch them. I opt to use kitchen tongs that keep me at a safe distance and can be washed clean without ever touching my skin.
Grab a prickly pear in the tongs and gently twist it off the cactus. Ripe ones are more red and will easily release from the tree. I gather a bunch of fruits in a large bowl and run the whole thing under water before the next step. 10 good size fruits will yield about a liter of juice.