View Full Version : Anyone experienced with prickly pear?

05-11-2009, 01:13 AM
So we have a Prickly Pear cactus that has thrived in our backyard for years now, yes in Ohio! It fruits every year and I've decided that when the fruits are ready for harvest in late summer/early fall that I will make meathe out of them! Lack of experience has led me to some questions. First the draft recipe.

For 1.25 gallons:

4 lbs Wildflower Honey
2 lbs Prickly Pear Fruit

Some questions:

1. How does one integrate the Fruit? Is a puree best? Or a juice? Or something else?

2. I've read that the fruit juice is so thick that you must boil it for 20-30 minutes. But its a delicate fruit and that would completely drive off the flavor and color. Is this boiling step truly necessary? Or can i skip the boil, my preferable way, and add directly to the mead?

3. Another preference I have when making mead is racking onto whatever flavorings i decide to use when I rack to the secondary. Am I able to do this with Prickly Pears too? Would it be even better if I picked another pound or two and use 2 pounds in the primary and 2 pounds in the secondary? Or is it neither being a primary only kind of deal?

As always thanks!!

05-11-2009, 12:13 PM
I've only used prickly pear once, but maybe I can offer you some tips.

First--wear lots of protective gear when harvesting. You probably already know this, but the pears (tuna I think they're called) have lots of little spines that will get all over you and itch like fiberglass. Not fun. I've read that some people flame the outside of the fruit to remove these little spines. Using tongs to handle them is also mentioned quite often.

I crudely pressed the fruit that I used--a spoon and a fine-mesh strainer. I was only doing one tuna, so that wasn't so bad. I think puree or juice would both work fine, just try to strain out the seeds.

I have also read that you need to boil the juice to break down some of the sticky components. I very briefly boiled it (maybe 5 mins), diluted in some apple juice I was also adding at the time. That worked fine for me, so you might also have success boiling for a shorter amount of time. I have no experience with unboiled prickly pear juice, but it's worth a shot if you feel up to it. In either case, I would suggest using pectinase. Add the pectinase to the cooled (if you boiled it) pear juice or directly into the must. I don't know what the stickiness of the prickly pear comes from, so I don't know if that enzyme will work against it.

You can add fruit to primary, secondary, or both. I would suggest adding some to the primary and deciding before you rack if you would like to add more. You might get exactly the flavor you want in the primary and not need to add more, or you may decide to add twice as much as you originally planned.

Lastly, some discussions from earlier threads turned up hints that prickly pear has some "fun" compounds in it. Enjoy responsibly. ;)

05-11-2009, 02:13 PM
Thank you very much for your input. im going to try your trick of mashing them through a strainer that sounds most effective. I am also going to go out on a limb and not boil them. I have also read about some species containing mescaline. haha +1 in my book. Thanks again for your help!

05-13-2009, 03:30 AM
Does anyone know if its necessary to boil them? Is it ill advised not to?
Also of those who have tried it, would you say this mead is better tasting on the sweet or dry side?

05-14-2009, 09:46 AM
You definitely don't want to boil them, as it will set in a permanent pectin haze in the finished mead. I'd recommend blanching them to remove the skins & spines then puree & freeze. Then you can add them directly to the primary or secondary. I prefer the sweeter ones myself, but it's your mead. Just my 2-cents! ;)


05-14-2009, 12:42 PM
Pectic enzyme will break down the pectins if you do want to heat them. I'd recommend using the enzyme if you heat it or not. Who knows, it might take out the sticky goo that you have before boiling.

05-15-2009, 02:06 PM
Ya I'm for sure going to use pectic enzyme, I always do when fruits are involved. I will keep a brew log when I decide to make it to tell my results with not boiling. If i find its thick like a syrup im sure cutting it with a sprite or something when its all aged and ready would make a wonderfully refreshing drink.