Making Prickly Pear Juice

Nopal con fruto (tunas)

Nopal con fruto (tunas) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perhaps you have heard of Nopalea, a very expensive juice containing a proprietary blend of ingredients most noteworthy of which is the juice of the fruit of the nopal (Spanish name for prickly pear cactus). While there are many testimonials online about the effectiveness of this juice in relieving inflamation, pain, fatigue, allergies, and the list goes on, paying $30 to $40 dollars a bottle for which the main ingredient is water seems a bit excessive to me.

But doing further research on the prickly pear led to some interesting findings. It is low calorie, loaded with Vitamins C and A, contains magnesium and potassium, and betalains which are powerful antioxidants (also found in beets and red Swiss chard). In tests it has been shown to lower bad cholesterol, regulate blood glucose, prevent cancer, and provide relief from alcoholic hangovers.

I have been interested in desert native foods for a couple of years now after I learned that the Native American found in the area of Arizona where we visit my husband’s family at Christmas time once only rarely suffered from diabetes. Since switching from eating native foods grown in the region to a more Americanized diet the diabetes rate soared to 15 time that of the general population, with 50% acquiring the disease by age 35. Members of this same people who have returned to a diet of traditional foods have shown marked weight loss, some even reversing their diabetes status without the use of medication. (Source)

I don’t have diabetes or any pre-diabetic condition, but both of my parents have Type 2 diabetes so I know I need to watch my health or I run the risk of joining them at some point. My interest in prickly pear juice right now is that my son really likes juice, yet I know that it is not recommended for children to consume much at all as juvenile obesity is at an epidemic level in the US. I also don’t like the fact that juice coats the teeth with sugar, promoting caries. Getting my son to cooperate with a thorough tooth brushing is not the easiest of tasks! So I have decided it is time to give prickly pear juice sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar a try!

(Xylitol could be the topic of a whole other post. You can see what good old Wikipedia has to say by following the link.)

While prickly pear cactus does grow in our area, it is possible to buy the fruit already de-thorned in the grocery store, which is what I did. Should you decide to pick your own this website explains how to do so and then remove the thorns so they can be handled.

Start with 10 prickly pears. I found this gave me just under 2 quarts of juice. I could have added a bit more water to make a full 2 quarts and the flavor really wouldn’t have suffered.

The first step in the juicing process is to slice off both ends of the prickly pear.

Then slice through the skin from top to bottom along one side.

Next unroll the fruit out of the skin, which can then be discarded.

Cut the interior of the prickly pear into chunks…

…and throw all together into your pot.

Cover the fruit with water and turn on the heat to medium until it begins to boil and then reduce to simmer.

Let simmer about 15 or 20 minutes or until it reaches your preferred strength.

Use a potato masher to break down the pulp and squeeze every last bit of prickly pear goodness from the fruit.

Ladle the pulp and liquid into a strainer.

Sweeten as desired. I used Xylitol as it is a natural sweetener, but without many calories and the added benefit of being a dental plaque fighter. I also added some lemon juice to give it a bit more zing and to help it keep longer (not a real concern as I’m drinking it fairly quickly.)

Chill and serve. Don’t you just love the vibrant color? If I didn’t know better I would think it was artificial.

Surprisingly my son doesn’t want to drink it. I’m not sure why because it doesn’t have an overly “exotic” flavor and I thought he’s think the color was fun. I made it mainly as an attempt to get him away from drinking as much apple juice as he now does. Even though we water it down extensively he still is getting more than the 4 oz of juice he should be limited to each day. (We did fine as a water-only family until he had a bad cold and wouldn’t eat so I gave him as much juice as he wanted over those days. Bad decision.) I also liked that instead of bathing his teeth in sugar with each sip he would actually be protecting his teeth from caries due to the use of the Xylitol. Prickly pear fruit also comes in a light green color, so I think I will try this once more using that color of fruit and then mix it with the apple juice initially. Perhaps it is the extreme change in color that is turning him off. If that doesn’t work I won’t push it. Everyone is entitled to their likes and dislikes. But I will keep making this for myself as it is delicious, refreshing, and so healthy. And who knows, maybe one day he’ll decide he wants some too…

Here’s where I’m linking up:


I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blogjembellish clothes

upcycling pageBlissful and Domestic,


Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little Birds,  C.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Sarahndipities The Cure for the Common Monday


Not Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerHome Stories A to Z, Tell Me TuesdayCrafty Confessions,

Homemade Tuesday, Tuesday To DoToday’s Assignment,

Antiprocrastination TuesdayTake-a-Look Tuesday,  Nifty Thrifty Tuesday,

The Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and SchwinHeart and Soul Blog Hop

Heart and Soul Blog Hop


Sew Much AdoFrugally Sustainable,  Lil’ LunaSomeday CraftsWhimsy

WednesdayWhatcha Work Up Wednesday, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday,


Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderAnything Goes Linky Party,


Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projects

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Naptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Artsy Mama


The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal




  1. rosyragpatch said,

    November 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I love the colour of this juice. We don’t get prickly pears here so I can’t try it but it looks so good.

    • November 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm

      If you have a Latin American population nearby you could probably find it in a little grocery or market that carries to the products that they buy that aren’t easily find-able in conventional markets. If you ever run across the fruit while traveling elsewhere, but aren’t going to be doing projects like this go ahead buy one, slice it in half and scoop out the middle with a spoon to eat. You’ll get to see what they taste like at least: they are so refreshing!

  2. Maysem said,

    November 14, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    I loved prickly pear as a child and still do! I do like the red one more, but there not as easy to find as the green in my part of town. 😀 However, I do enjoy the green ones as well. I never knew you can make juice out of it…. maybe I’ll give this a try one day.

    • November 14, 2012 at 8:35 pm

      I haven’t tried the green ones yet. I was curious if they would have a different taste or not. Did you just scoop yours out and eat it with a spoon. I do find them really nice that way too!

      • Maysem said,

        November 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm

        No, I actually never thought of eating it that way. My mom used to slice a bit off of each end, then create a slit from end to end into one side of the fruit, and then peel the skin off… so that’s how I do it too. 🙂

  3. Tea Foodie [by Zanitea] said,

    November 15, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    What a cool and unique recipe! Thanks for checking out my Tea Foodie blog.

  4. Elise said,

    November 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Looks amazing! Would love it if you linked up on my blog hop Also let me know if you’d like to follow each other!

  5. November 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    This looks delicious. Great information. I have a link party and would love to have you share this and any other posts. It is called Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Link Party. The link to the party is
    I hope to see you there.
    Have a great week.
    Debi @ Adorned From Above

  6. November 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    This looks gorgeous!! I’m definitely going to have keep my eyes out for these.

    Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday 🙂 I’ve pinned it to my WNWN board and don’t forget to check back on Wednesday to see if you’ve been featured.

  7. November 23, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    How interesting! It certainly looks appetizing, I must try this sometime!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  8. December 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    […] Making Prickly Pear Juice […]

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