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Nov 4, 2011 01:42 PM

Cactus Fruit Juice (How to)

In 2008, I posted about the first cactus fruit I ate. I loved the taste, hated the seed aspect. In that thread we talked mostly about the seeds and how that affected the eating of the fruit. I searched the site for my current topic but didn’t see anything so I wanted to start a new thread with this new title.

My wife saw this infomercial about a drink call Nopalea. This is cactus fruit juice I think. I’ll confess right now, I didn’t do much research on the company putting this drink out, or the ingredients in it, except it was very expensive so I knew I probably wasn’t going to be buying any.

Today I bought three pounds of red cactus fruit and I would like to juice them. I don’t have a juicer, except for a citrus juicer, so my thought was to: skin them, cut them up, put them in a little water, boil, then push them thru a strainer.

Any other ideas? I’m not familiar with juicing, except citrus. Thanks.

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  1. I also had my first cactus fruit this year and had to experiment getting the juice out (I made sorbet and a syrup that I used in margaritas). I found that they have such a high water content that all I had to do was toss the fruit in a blender for a few seconds and then strain out the seeds. The pulp pretty much turns to liquid.

    For the margarita syrup, I reduced the puree-juice with some sugar, fresh orange juice and fresh lime juice. I found that cooking it really got rid of that weird, sort of metallic, after taste that the fresh fruit has (although apparently it also destroys a lot of the vitamin C which, come to think of it, might be responsible for that weird taste in the first place).

    3 Replies
    1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

      Wow, interesting. Was the juice yield fairly large when you did the blender? I like this technique rather than cooking.

      1. re: Rocky Road

        Yeah, because the pulp and the liquid both end up turning into juice, the yield is pretty high. There's almost no waste at all -- all that's left in the strainer is the seeds. If you've ever put a watermelon in a blender, it's basically the same effect.

      2. Don't know how well your cactus fruits (tunas) were prepared, but a word of warning: the red tunas on prickly pear cactus have what look like small, fuzzy white spots that are some of the nastiest tiny spines I've ever seen. One touch can get you dozens of small spines. I've spent lots of time pulling them out of my fingers with tweezers. And you never get them all. We have acres of them here in several pastures, and to my knowledge, no one around here (Driftwood, Texas) uses them for
        anything any more.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Mangobob

          Yeah, I picked mine from a local cactus and you definitely need some good gardening gloves if you don't want to end up looking like a cactus yourself. You can singe off most of the really horrible spines, though, if you have a kitchen blow torch. I skewered mine on a chopstick and held them over the flame on my gas stove and that worked quite well. You still have to be careful handling them, but I ended up with only a few spines in my fingers after peeling a couple dozen fruit. Not too bad, considering what happened to my boyfriend's hands the first time we went cactus picking...

          I've also read that you can remove the tiniest spines from your fingers with Elmer's school glue. Smear on a layer, let it dry, and then peel it off. I haven't tried this, though, since I don't have any Elmer's school glue in my house.

          1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

            The best way to clean them is to put them in a basket and blast them with a garden hose..or put them in a strainer and blast them under your kitchen faucet. All the tiny thorns get washed away and then you can handle them.

            1. re: carln

              Oh no they don't- really and truly, they do not

            2. re: BananaBirkLarsen

              I have 2 in my fridge now - smooth as a baby's bottom. Many latin markets offer them with the little clumps of nasty spines all buffed off. La Michoacana markets in Dallas & Acapulco Tropical in Bradenton, FL, by example. I'll never mess with prickly ones again. As Sam would say, I'm smilin' like a jackass eatin' cactus.

              1. re: Veggo

                We don't get tunas with spines either here in San Diego. Green or red, these things are delicious.

          2. Just an update, I used BBL's blender method and it worked very well. Without any water I found the consistency came out like a smoothie rather than juice. I added water because I wanted it to be more like a juice. It was good, but a little weak so I added the juice of one fresh orange and that made it nice. Very high yield as BBL suggested. I only used 4 fruit and got a pint. Beautiful color.

            1. When you wash the fruits and put in a pot to cook, the spines and glochids (the deadly little tiny stickers) get soft and you can go ahead and strain them afterward and not worry too much about the pointy parts. But don't try to mash the pulp through the strainer with your hands, just to be safe. And be sure to strain them finally through something that will block the glochids from your resulting juice. It's definitely worth the effort.

              1. Who cooks the juice, and who uses it raw? A poll, please chime in.

                1 Reply
                1. re: EWSflash

                  I cooked it for my syrup for margaritas and I used it raw in a sorbet. While the sorbet was delicious, I think I prefer it cooked, sans that weird back-of-the-throat metallic taste.