How to eat prickly pear, a.k.a. cactus fruit, a.k.a. tunas

Picture of How to eat prickly pear, a.k.a. cactus fruit, a.k.a. tunas
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. 
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Step 1: Use tongs to get the prickly pears off the cactus

Picture of 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.

Step 2: Carve the prickly pear

Picture of Carve the prickly pear
Using the tongs, place a prickly pear on your cutting board and cut off each end with a sharp knife. Then cut a seam about 1/4" deep from end to end. 

Be careful to use the tongs or fork the whole time - never touch the skin of a prickly pear! 
nlove774 days ago
Why cant we touch the skin? Is it poisonous?
No, the skin of the fruit is covered in a bunch of tiny needles that can get stuck onto skin easily.
Geronimo8882 months ago

I am anna i am 6 year's old

i tried it . i did not really like it.


djones5755 months ago

My mom used to make prickly pear jam. I think she burned the finer thorns off.

Mentro djones5755 months ago

Almost all are removed. The taste ranges from cucumber like to deliciousand sweet(much better and refreshing than watermelon in my opinion), depending on the variety

Arman559210 months ago
Usually when you touch a cactus (cutting its fruit should be worse than touching) it releases lots of little invisible spines that are really painful if they would be in your hand and you'd touch something (your device to research how to take them off) you should either wear gloves OR put your hand in a pot / bowl with warm water (very comforting :D )
Haha! Very fun instructible! Is there any flavor that comes close to the prickly pear juice, so I know what to expect?
klayperson (author)  HelmutHound1 year ago
The ones I'm using taste sort of like really intense watermelon, but I've heard different varieties taste different - anything from sweet to sour.