The Desert’s Dessert: Cactus Pears Tips and Tricks

When planning your fall and winter menus, bring a little bit of the American Southwest with the unique sweetness of cactus pears. Despite their spiky appearance, cactus pears (also known as prickly pears) have a unique sweetness that’ll liven up the cold months! Use these tips to craft a succulent dish.

First determine ripeness. Cactus pears are firm but not rock-hard when ripe.

  • If you bought your cactus pears from a distributor or grocery store, the spikes should be removed. However, if purchased from a farmer’s market, the spikes may still be intact. There are a few ways to remove the spikes, but we’d recommend roasting them above an open flame or carefully using a paring knife to cut them off.
    • Safety first! Be sure to wear gloves when removing spikes. They aren’t called prickly pears for nothing.

When preparing, first cut the ends off, then make a lengthwise cut from top to bottom and peel back to enjoy the fruit.

  • Try pulsing the fruit in a blender or food processor to make a puré It’s a wonderful base for cocktails, non-alcoholic sodas, and sorbets.