We’ve all heard about Strawberry Margaritas, but how about a Prickly Pear Margarita? Len and I were recently hiking in near-by Rice Canyon in Chula Vista, California, one of the many canyons in the San Diego area known for its natural cactus and chapparal vegetation. I used to hike in this canyon when I was a child and past images came to my mind – branches of cholla cactus sticking to my hand as I brushed past – my friend’s mother donning garden gloves and pliers to remove the prickles from my hand.
That day as we walked in the canyon, the fruits from the Prickly Pear Cactus were out in abundance, their red color contrasting with the green spiky paddles of the plant. Len said that people have been eating this cactus fruit for many centuries and was a major source of food and medicine for Native Americans. I felt a major ‘What Tha!’ coming on and started to ponder what I could make with this fruit. It came to me suddenly – what about a Prickly Pear Margarita!
Prickly Pear fruit (called tuna in Spanish) has a subdued flavour with a cross between a watermelon and a plum. However, when puréed and added to a Margarita, it can turn an ordinary cocktail into something extraordinary!
Prickly Pear Cactus in Rice Canyon You’ll need Garden Gloves and Pliers to harvest the fruit You have to be very careful in picking the Prickly Pear fruit- the prickles are almost invisible and are rather difficult to remove if lodged in your skin. For my Margarita, I decided to buy the Prickly Pears from a local Mexican supermarket, where the prickles had already been removed.
To prepare the Prickly Pear:
To Prepare the Prickly Pear Purée:
- First, prepare a syrup with a 1:2 ratio- I brought 1/4 cup water to a boil, then added 1/2 cup sugar and stirred for several minutes.
- Reduce the heat; then add 3/4 Prickly Pear fruit and stir until the fruit mixture becomes soft.
- Purée the mixture in a blender, ready to be added to your fantastic Prickly Pear Margarita!
- 4 ounces Tequila
- 2 ounces Triple Sec (Cointreau)
- 2 ounces Lime Juice
- ½ cup crushed ice
- 2 - 4 tsp Prickly Pear Purée
- Add the Tequila, Triple Sec (Cointreau), lime juice and crushed ice into a blender and pulse until blended.
- Stir in 2 - 4 tsp Prickly Pear purée to taste.