In the wise words of Baloo from the Jungle Book, “Don’t pick the prickly pear by the paw, when you pick a pear try to use a claw.” It is true, that the prickly pear is dangerous on the outside, but absolutely delicious on the inside. It’s no surprise that Baloo loved this fruit so much that it was sung about in the famous Jungle Book song “Bare Necessities.” This unique pink fruit is one of natures sweetest treats, but not many people know how absolutely delicious it truly is or that the fruit was edible at all. Keep reading and I’ll show you how to make prickly pear syrup! And you can even add it into some gin popsicles for a fun summer treat!
What is Prickly Pear?
A Prickly pear otherwise known as a cactus pear, is a fleshy, extremely sweet fruit that is grown on a cactus known as Optunia. The fruit is native to the United States, as well as parts of Mexico and the Carribean. When ripe, the fruit tastes like the perfect mix of bubblegum and watermelon!
The fruit is typically used as a syrups, jams, juices and cocktails because of it’s amazingly sweet and refreshing flavor. It can also be eaten straight off the cactus as a delicious treat. Not only does this fruit taste amazing, it contains so many amazing health benefits that should not be overlooked! The fruit contains is loaded with potassium, calcium, vitamin C, magnesium as well as essential antioxidants, and inflammatory properties. Not to mention, it is a great hangover remedy so it is the perfect additive to a little hair of the dog.
How to Harvest Prickly Pear
The first step to harvesting a prickly pear is to identify the correct fruit, and whether or not it is ripe enough. The fruit varies in color from green, which are not so sweet, to pink which is the sweetest.
The fruits grow on the flat pads of the Optunia cactus, and should be with caution so you don’t hurt yourself with the hair like splinters found on the fruit, called glochids. When picking the fruit it is important to protect your hands! Wear gardening gloves, or better yet use BBQ tongs in order to avoid having to touch the fruit at all.
If you do not feel comfortable harvesting the fruit yourself, not to worry! You can purchase prickly pears that are already prepared for use typically at any mexican market, farmers markets or sometimes even Whole Foods, in the fall.
What Makes is Pink?
In addition to it’s unique flavor, the prickly pear has a stunning pink color that makes it very aesthetically pleasing! The vibrant pink color comes from anthocyanin, a potent antioxidant that is found in the fruit.
How to Make it
First of all, if you harvested your own prickly pears you are going to want to make sure you prepare them properly. Remember, whatever you do, don’t touch the skin! The best way is to hold the prickly pear using a pair of tongs and peel off the skin very carefully with a knife. Once the thorny skin has been removed, remove the remaining seeds and voila!
Next, to properly prepare the Prickly Pear Syrup, you are going to want to cut the fruit in half and use a spoon to take out all of the pulp. Then in a medium sauce pan, bring the sugar, water and fruit to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir for about 15 minutes! When the 15 minutes are up, use a cheescloth to strain the mixture! To finish it off, let it cool in a bowl and once it is at room temperature add lemon juice!
How to Make Prickly Pear Syrup
Prickly pear syrup is a sweet and unique flavor to add to cocktails and mocktails at your next dinner party!
- Prep Time5 min
- Cook Time15 min
- Total Time20 min
- Ready in20
- Yield8 ounces
For the burger
- 4 prickly pear fruit (tunas) (1.5 cups pulp)
- 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons
- 1/4 cup water
- Juice from half a lemon
Preparing the spices
Cut the tuna (prickly pear fruit) in half and spoon out the pulp. Measure to about 1.5 cups of fruit.
In a medium sauce pan gently bring to a boil with the sugar and water. Reduce to simmer. Stir to make sure it doesn’t stick for 15 minutes.
Strain through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer. Let cool in a bowl and add lemon once room temperature.
Store in a bottle or jar with rubber lid. It will keep in the fridge for up to a month. Use to flavor sparkling water or cocktails!