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Prickly Pear Simple Syrup

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This Prickly Pear Simple Syrup recipe has a gorgeous, bright color and unique flavor. It is easy to make and perfect to use in cocktails, on ice cream, and on pancakes!

Prickly Pear Syrup in a clear bottle surrounded by limes and prickly pears.

What are prickly pears?

Prickly pears come from the Opuntia genus of cacti and are native to the desert southwest in North and South America, but can also be found in the Caribbean and Australia. The most common variety is the Mexican Prickly Pear which comes in yellow-green or red-purple varieties, and is commonly used in aqua frescas.

They are a large, trunk-forming, segmented cactus that may grow to 16–23 feet high and over 10 ft in diameter with a trunk diameter of 3 feet. Prickly pears typically grow with flat, rounded cladodes or nopales (they look like paddles) containing large, smooth, fixed spines and small, hairlike prickles called glochids that readily adhere to skin or hair, then detach from the plant.

Prickly Pear Cactus image with purple-red fruits.

How do you use them?

Prickly pears can be used in a variety of different ways – they can be eaten raw as a snack or ingredient, cooked into jams and jellies, made into a syrup, or dried for use in baking.

The fruit of prickly pears, commonly called cactus fruit, cactus fig, Indian fig (or tuna in Spanish) is edible, although it must be peeled carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin before using. The easiest way to remove the hair like spines is to burn them off with a torch or gas stove. Simply run the flame over the skin until the white “dots” turn black and all of the prickles have fallen off. You can hold the cactus fruit with tongs or stick a skewer through the wide end to avoid injury.

A pair of tongs holding a prickly pear fruit next to a torch flame.

The inside of the cactus fruit is filled with large seeds which are edible, but they are rather tough to chew.

A prickly pear fruit cut in half on a cutting board.

The flesh has a sweet, melon-like flavor with a hint of bubble gum. It adds a fun and distinctive flavor to margaritas!

Three prickly pear margaritas in rocks glasses with a bottle of tequila and bottle of syrup in the background.

Ingredients needed to make this syrup

Ingredients to make prickly pear simple syrup.
  • Fresh prickly pear cactus fruit from your backyard or local grocery store. They are in season from July to October, but can be found up until December if brought in from other countries or frozen.
  • Filtered water and granulated sugar (or clear agave syrup/nectar) create the base for the syrup while simmering, and fresh lime juice gives the syrup an extra bit of citrusy tartness.

How to make prickly pear simple syrup

To be extra safe, hold the dethorned fruit with a pair of tongs and cut them in half with a sharp knife, then cut off the end with the thorns. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon.

Place the water, sugar, and pear flesh in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Prickly pear syrup simmering in a saucepan.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Carefully pour the syrup mixture into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.

Prickly pear simple syrup in a blender.

Pour the mixture into a large measuring cup through a fine mesh sieve, or strainer, to remove the seeds.

Prickly pear simple syrup in a fine mesh sieve.

Stir in the lime juice and pour into a sealable bottle or air-tight container. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Prickly Pear Syrup in a clear bottle surrounded by limes and prickly pears.

Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Fresh cactus fruit is good for one week after picking.
  • Prickly pear simple syrup will last in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for up to one year.

Tools used to create this recipe

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Uses for prickly pear simple syrup

  • Stir into lemonade to make prickly pear lemonade.
  • Add to sparkling water for a refreshing drink.
  • Drizzle over pancakes, French toast, or waffles in place of maple syrup.
  • Pour over vanilla ice cream.
  • Add to club soda with a splash of lime to make homemade ginger ale.

More simple syrup recipes

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Enjoy!!

Prickly Pear Syrup in a clear bottle.

Prickly Pear Simple Syrup

This Prickly Pear Simple Syrup recipe has a gorgeous, bright color and unique flavor. It is easy to make and perfect to use in cocktails!
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Print Rate
Course: Condiment, Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: flavored syrup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 100kcal
Author: Lisa Johnson

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups prickly pear fruit pulp
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice

Instructions

  • To be extra safe, hold the dethorned fruit with a pair of tongs and cut them in half with a sharp knife, then cut off the end with the thorns. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
  • Place the water, sugar, and pear flesh in a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • Carefully pour the syrup mixture into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into a large measuring cup through a fine mesh sieve, or strainer, to remove the seeds.
  • Stir in the lime juice and pour into a sealable bottle or air-tight container. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Notes

  • Fresh cactus fruit is good for one week after picking.
  • Prickly pear simple syrup will last in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for up to one year.
  • The juice from the prickly pear fruit WILL STAIN everything it comes in contact with. It washed off my white countertop and wore off my fingernails in 24 hours. Wear gloves if you are concerned.
  • This recipe makes a little over one cup of syrup.

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.003g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.003g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 49mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 77IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 0.1mg

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