This prickly pear cactus candy is INCREDIBLE.
When I was 16 I went to Arizona for what was legitimately my first vacation ever. It was like 2 weeks in the Tuscon area which was a huge difference from where I grew up.
While there of course I tried prickly pear cactus candy. It was labeled “cowboy candy.” It would be years before I even thought of the fruit again.
Tuna Fruit? What?
Fast forward 10 years and I’m in Mexico, trying what’s called “tuna fruit” here. Evidently, it’s the same thing so I got determined to make the pectin based cactus candy myself.
Prickly Pear Cactus Candy Recipe Things To Know
Guys, this is a recipe not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of stirring and if the conditions aren’t quite right it can take days to “get it right”. My issue is that here in Mexico for most of the country we are experiencing the humid wet season, which is basically the enemy of pectin based candy.
If you have a food dehydrator, you skirt all issues as you can just pop these in there at a low temp for a long time until you get the right texture. Anyway, on to the recipe.
6-7 T Pectin (How much depends on humidity, if it’s humid use more. If it’s dry out, you can use less.)
3 Apples or 1.25 c plain applesauce
3 Purple Prickly Pear or Tuna Fruit (Green is ok, but you lose the incredible ruby color)
1 lime, juice only
2.5 c sugar
Prickly Pear Cactus Candy Recipe Instructions
1) Begin by preparing the Prickly Pear fruit. Be careful of spines and hold on to it by the ends. Cut off each end then cut a slit down the center of the fruit. Gently use your fingers to peel the skin off the fruit. There will be a ruby red pear-shaped piece of fruit inside.
2) Break into chunks with hands and put the pieces into a blender. Pulse until just barely combined. As little as possible or you risk making the candy bitter because of broken seeds.
3) Strain through a strainer using your hands. Collect the juice and pulp into a bowl, discard the seeds.
4) Prepare the apples by peeling, coring and slicing them. Cook them with a half cup of water in an Instant Pot for 30 minutes. Or to save time you can use applesauce without sugar or cinnamon. Combine the apples and prickly pear pulp and juice in a blender until smooth. Add lime juice.
5) Pour into a large saucepan.
6) Combine 1c sugar with the pectin in a bowl.
7) Slowly add pectin and sugar mixture to fruit mixture until well combined. Then add the rest of the sugar.
8) Heat on medium stirring constantly until it comes to a rolling boil. This will take a bit of constant stirring, so don’t give up or have help.
9) If you have a candy thermometer it should be about 225 Fahrenheit for about 1 minute before removing from heat.
10) Pour into 8×8 inch greased glass pan, I used a tiny bit of coconut oil. Glass is important cause it helps set the pectin better, I learned the hard way.
11) Put the pan in a safe spot where it can be open to the air safe from bugs etc. It needs to dry overnight.
12) In the morning once it’s firm, cut into inch sized squares, roll in sugar, and set on a plate to continue to dry for 6 more hours. Then package and store at room temperature.
My Prickly Pear Cactus Candy Didn’t Set. What do I do?
If your candies don’t set, just heat the mixture again, add more pectin and sugar and lime juice and reboil it. I had to do this myself and it worked.
This candy is super smooth and delicious yet it’s homemade with no bad ingredients. I’ve also made this with cannabis, just by adding cannabis oil to the mixture when it was still hot. You just add it and mix thoroughly before pouring it into the glass pan.
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