How to Harvest Cactus Fruit & Prepare Prickly Pear Juice?

Learn prickly pear fruit gathering and processing, as well as the preparation of prickly pear lemonade punch:

Do not miss the chance to take advantage of the gift of the vitamin-rich juice that is contained in the prickly pear fruits when the desert is full of the magnificent magenta fruits that are carried by prickly pears (typically in the months of July and August). It is simple to get by using one of the following two techniques, and once collected, it may be stored frozen in containers or plastic bags for usage throughout the year.

Collect the fruit of the prickly pear cactus either on your own property or with the owner’s permission on another piece of land. Keep in mind that it is against the law to collect any plants, fruits, seeds, or plant parts from state or federal properties or highways unless you have permission in writing to do so. Always remember to save some of the fruit for the animals, since they need nourishment just as much as you do.


When the fruit has reached its height of maturity, which is indicated by a deep magenta color, take it from the plant using tongs and put it in a big bucket. In most cases, you will be able to tell when it begins to fall from the plant or when there is evidence that birds are beginning to feast on it. I always make it a point to leave part of the plant’s fruit on the margins where it can be readily reached by the animals so that they may have their fair portion. Note: When harvesting and handling the fruit, use extreme care, particularly on days when there is a strong breeze. Glochids are little, rust-colored stickers that may easily get airborne and fall on you, where they can embed themselves into your skin or, even worse, go into your eyes.

After removing the sand and dust from the fruits with water, load some of them at a time into your blender using your tongs. Rapidly process the ingredients until they are in a liquid state, then pour the liquid through a strainer with a fine mesh or a colander lined with cheesecloth that has been put over a big basin. After doing so, all of the seeds and stickers will be removed, and you will be left with prickly pear juice that can be used fresh or frozen to make a variety of beverages, sauces, syrups, and jellies, among other things. Put the pulp in your compost pile after you’re done with it.


Take the fruit directly from the plant using the first method’s instructions. After rinsing, load the contents of the plastic bags using tongs. Put the fruit in freezer bags and freeze them for at least a couple of days. Take the fruit out of the freezer and place it in a sieve or colander, as was done in the previous step. The fruit will have become more pliable as a result of being frozen, and when it is thawed, the juice will flow readily enough for you to separate it and consume it.


Mix one can of frozen lemonade with one can of water, one can or less of prickly pear juice, and two cans (or more to taste) of any lemon-lime soda. This will produce the Prickly Pear Lemonade that is best to be served at meetings and cactus sales events.

You may get a variety of different suggestions on how to use the juice by doing a search on the internet for prickly pear recipes.

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