Tuna ( Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit ) Jelly

Total Time
Prep 20 mins
Cook 20 mins

A gorgeously colored, flavorful jelly. This recipe does not double well. It also calls for liquid pectin, but powdered seems to jell a little better. While this recipe is written in a relatively old-fashioned way, it is perfectly safe if processed using modern methods. If you are unfamiliar with these techniques, please go to http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html for the current information.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 3 lbs ripe prickly pears, enough to yield 3 and 1/4 cups juice from cooked fruit (cactus fruit or tunas)
  • 1 (3 ounce) bottle liquid pectin
  • 2 lemons, juice of
  • 8 cups sugar


  1. Pluck the fruit from the cactus with a long handled fork or tongs.
  2. Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands: wash fruit under running water, then use a brush to clean (spines left on the fruit will soften during the cooking process and should come off after the fruit is strained).
  3. Place in stockpot with about a cup of water.
  4. Stir until boiling, cover pan and simmer until tender and soft.
  5. Mash cooked fruit and strain using cheesecloth, a jelly bag or a fine sieve; set aside for juice to settle (for very clear jelly, do not use the portion containing sediment).
  6. Measure sugar into a separate pan.
  7. Bring juice and pectin just to boil, stirring constantly, and begin to add sugar slowly with constant stirring, taking about 5 minutes to add sugar, and keeping juice nearly at a boil.
  8. Then bring to a rolling boil and boil for three minutes longer.
  9. Remove from heat, let stand a few seconds, skim, pour quickly into jars and seal while hot.
  10. Process for ten minutes in a boiling water bath.


Most Helpful

This is absolutely wonderful. My friend has a HUGE prickly pear cactus and we put this up every fall and I send it to all my relatives in the Chrismas goodie boxes. I get requests for it from them now. I've had some that didn't set up well but the kids use it as syrup on their pancakes. Also, you can warm in the microwave oven, add some thyme or rosemary(my favorite is thyme)and brush it on roast chicken the last 30 minutes and it is wonderful! Thanks so much for sharing.

Cooking Mom of 7 October 10, 2011

I would love to give this absolutely delicious jelly 5 stars, but I'm only giving it 3 because the recipe does not state when to add the lemon juice, and since I followed the recipe to a T, I didn't realize until the jelly was in the canner that I hadn't added the lemon juice.....much to my extreme consternation! I did some research and learned, fortunately, that the lemon juice is not necessary for food safety, only for taste and jellability and, unfortunately, lack of it did affect my jelly in a negative way: it came out thick and hard to spread, not like a true jelly, although it still tasted great. I used a 1.75 oz. box of powdered pectin instead of the liquid. Also, I only got seven 1/2-pint jars, not 12.

Goody2shz November 16, 2011

I've never made jelly, kinda scared with all the boiling this and that, i will someday and will try it with this recipe. I did however use this idea to make a slushy. I boiled the fruit in some what, poured it through a sieve, dumped in some sugar, and froze, stirrinng every once in a while. I went shopping and when i returned thare was a delicious cactus fruit slushy waiting for me. Thanks for the inspiration!

Chef Coco Nut December 07, 2009

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