Tequila with Prickly Pears (Tunas)

I planted my cactus about 2 years ago. It seemed fine until this summer and it just took off. Fresh new paddles for eating as a vegetable were harvested all year but more dramatic were all the prickly pears, or tunas.

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They were good about ripening in stages until recently. All of a sudden they seem swollen and ready to pick, or risk having them split and rot.

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Several years ago, I discovered you can take ripe fruit and add it to a mason jar of tequila with a spoonful of sugar and make a fine little drink. You let it sit for a week, agitating daily and then pour it into shot glasses for a nice aperitif. I’d been successful with pears and peaches and thought, what the heck, I’ll try it with some puree from the tunas.

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After burning off the spines, I scooped out the flesh and added it to a blender with just enough water to make the blades run smoothly. A quick trip through the food mill and then about a ladle full into clean mason jars. I finished with the least expensive 100% agave tequila I could find (in this case Hornitos brand), added a spoonful of sugar and that was it.

The tunas have a subtle tropical melon flavor. I just think it’s great that what basically is a weed can produce so much with so little effort. I think this would make a great Christmas gift.

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5 Comments on Tequila with Prickly Pears (Tunas)

  1. oh you lucky west coasters! I worked at a mexican resto out here in the city that served prickly pear margaritas that I simply adored! I would love to try this, but alas, will have to wait…

  2. I’m lucky to have such a healthy plant. It turns out you want southern exposure and a slight downhill slant (for drainage.) But keep in mind Napa is literally freezing. This last week has seen the temps dip below 30 several times. I don’t know if the cactus can handle snow, but it’s pretty butch.
    As for the margarita, I’m going to try one with my flavored tequila. Thanks for the tip.

  3. I’m sure Steve (hiya, RG!) won’t mind me shilling on his thread…at Centrico in NYC, we make a sublime cocktail called Jala-piña: tequila blanco infused with pineapple and jalapeño peppers.

    Just in case you East Coasters can’t wait until you find some good prickly pears, come on in. ;-}

  4. Ach, sorry, Steve – I thought I was posting on Serious Eats. I’ll pay more attention next time.

  5. Are you nuts? I don’t mind at all. When I get to NY, the first thing I will do (after pastrami at Katz) is check out Centrico. Everything I’ve heard about the menu is appealing. It sounds innovative without being cute or crossing any lines for innovation’s sake, if that makes any sense. I’m sure a Jala-piña or six doesn’t hurt, either.
    Please see if Sr. Sanchez would ever consider a San Francisco branch. We need something like this desperately!

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