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Seasonal Drinking: An easy recipe for handpicked Prickly Pear Margaritas.

2010 August 25

In the words of my younger brother, my Dad is “super Mexican.”  As children, the man insisted we waste NOTHING, and he always loved doing things the hard way. I mean, why should we spend 30 minutes making potato chips ourselves when we could just go to the store and buy some?  Why did we have to bike to visit his sister when the Suburban was sitting in the garage fully gassed up. Dad was soooo “Mexican”-and it used to drive me crazy.

While hanging out with Dad on a recent family gathering in Wimberley, I watched him walk around the cabin and make sure no one left on lights or threw away their glass bottles. Suddenly it dawned on me: Dad’s not a cheap Mexican, he’s just simply resourceful.

When I was a child, my Dad, brother and I used to go out into the woods and harvest prickly pear, or as Dad calls ‘em in Spanish: “tuna” [thoo-ná].  In the hot summer days, we’d use them to make make popsicles, lemonade, meat marinade or just swallow those pink suckers whole.  As we got older, we started adding them to margaritas. So to celebrate summer, I thought I’d adapt those old recipes and share how to make prickly pear MARGARITAS…handpicked, Guerrero style.

If you’ve never had prickly pears, you’re in for a surprise. They’re not as sugary as most fruit.  They have a gentle, mildly  tart sweetness similar to Swedish Fish candy.  I find them to be perfect for margaritas because their flavor is subtly sugary with just the right kick to compliment the soury sweetness of agave, tequila and lime.


Recipe for Handpicked Prickly Pear Margaritas:

Step 1:

Using a pair of tongs, grasp the prickly pear and with a knife (or machete if you’re a badass), slice the prickly pears off of mama cactus.

Collect them in a bowl.  Be very careful not to prick yourself.

Step 2:

Use your gas stove top, a fire or a candle to burn off the thorns.  This process will also make the prickly pear juices flow.  (Alternatively, you could boil them).

Step 3:

Cut or peel off the prickly pear skin and puree the flesh with some water and agave nectar.  We pretty much wing the measurements, but I’d say 1/2 cup of water to every 3 prickly pear.  Squirt agave to taste.

You can strain your seeds, but they are edible.

Step 4:

Add 1/4 cup of lime juice, tequila, ice, agave to taste, and a splash of orange juice and blend.  We usually pour 1-2 shots of tequila per person into our margaritas, but we like them strong. Garnish with lime or strawberries.

Step 5:

Drink up.

When we were done with ours, my uncle said, “So much work for margaritas!”  And that’s precisely the lesson.  Food takes work.  It doesn’t, and shouldn’t come easy.  Most of all, it’s fun!

What’s your favorite seasonal summer drink?

What other seasonal fruits have you made into a cocktail?


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3 Responses leave one →
  1. August 25, 2010

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    ROA Seasonal Drinking: An easy recipe for handpicked Prickly Pear Margaritas.:

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  2. DiegoNectar permalink
    August 25, 2010

    Ari - I love this recipe - and even more, the personal story as the backdrop. I am inspired now to conquer my fear of these prickly prizes sitting atop of the cactus in our local fields. Gonna try to pull it off this weekend when the friends are over. Got my Fortalezza tequila and lots of good agave nectar in the pantry… Cheers!

    • Ari Guerrero permalink
      August 26, 2010

      Thanks Diego! Just be careful not to get pricked! Thanks for reading.

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