We have had our cactus for probably over 5 years now and I must say I had no clue it was all edible. The flower photo I took above because I just thought they were all so pretty. These flowers turned into green fruit and then the ripe rich color you see in the other photo. One day my uncle came and picked some off so that he could make some juice last year. Therefore, this year I decided to try something with the prickly pear myself:)
My goal is to share my experience with my prickly pear cactus in my
front yard. I then want to add some tips that I would implement next year when I pick them again as well as a few resource links to help educate others who may not have known much about them.
Step 1: Safety First
The prickly pear is ripe when the deep color (mine were purple) goes all the way to the bottom and you can usually tell when they're ripe. Although my dad advised me to burn off the extremely tiny pricks on the fruit first, I went outside and gathered them off with tongs and put them in plastic bags.
I then dumped them out in a colander and rinsed them off which got rid of a lot of the pricks as well (but not all of them).
After this I didn't quite feel like doing anything with them yet so I put them in the freezer for a few days.
Step 2: Supplies I Used
After removing them from the freezer, I let them thaw out completely and prepared myself with a little scrubber, tongs, a mashing utensil, bowls and a strainer.
Step 3: Preparing to Juice
When the fruit was completely thawed, juice was already forming in my bowl (because they really get soft) and I then proceeded to use my tongs to start cutting the skins off: start with the ends if you want to use your hands to hold it afterwards.
When the skin is cut off I would just toss it in the little strainer and use the mashing utensil to start extracting the juice.
I ended up straining twice to make sure the seeds were gone.
There are so many seeds that can be used for planting too!
Step 4: Put in a Jar
I took some parchment paper and used a little pin to make a funnel that I used to pour the juice in my glass jar. From this step it would be up to you if you'd like to preserve by freezing. Some people decided to make candy or canned jams and jelly from it:)
Tips Note: (I did this the hard way, next time I would just burn all the
pricks off, rinse, cut off all the skins, toss all the fruit in a bowl, proceed to mash, and then strain)- silly me:)
Also, if you decided to cut the skins off before freezing, it will be easier because the fruit won't be as soft.
Overall, this was a great experience my first time ever tasting and
harvesting the fruit; hope this helps someone to do the same!
http://stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/18092 (Shelf Life)
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-880-PRICKLY%20PEAR%20CACTUS.aspx?activeIngredientId=880&activeIngredientName=PRICKLY%20PEAR%20CACTUS (Nutritional Information)