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Prickly Pear Jelly

Prickly Pear Jelly

The desert is just filled with this wonderful fruit, free for the taking.

2 1/2 pounds of fruit (tuna) will yield a little over 2 1/2 cups of juice.

Use red, ripe, tuna (fruit). If fruit is very ripe, try to include some under-ripe ones to add pectin. A handy way to gather fruit is to use a long-handled fork or tongs and a heavy paper bag. It is not necessary to remove the spines, as they will come off when fruit is pressed through cheesecloth or filter paper. Brush the pears with a vegetable brush.

To handle these, first use tongs and a knife to scrape the prickly spines off, then trim the edges off. Some hold them over a burner to burn the spines off. After doing this, cut off the ends.


  • 2 1/2 cups prickly pear cactus juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime juice (I use lemon)
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 18 teaspoons* powdered pectin

* Usually 1 box, but measure because different brands contain different amounts.


  1. Slice the fruit (you need not skin it) into quarters and put into a pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Mash with a potato masher and strain the juice and water through a colander with two layers of cheesecloth to remove the seeds and pulp.
  2. Hard boil cactus fruit juice, pectin and lemon juice for 3 minutes. Hard boil means the point at which the brew still bubbles even when you stir it. Add sugar and bring back to a hard boil for 2 minutes or until the jell point is reached.
  3. Pour into 8 once canning jars, seal and heat process for 10 minutes. Follow the instructions for water bath canning high acid foods here.
Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly pear fruits are rich in vitamin C, and colored by betacyanins, both of which are powerful antioxidants. They are a good source of fiber, and are high in calcium and magnesium.

Here is a recipe for Prickly Pear Margarita.

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