Prickly (Cactus) Pear Chutney

My dad always finds the most incredible recipes in the newspapers and on our recent visit to Johannesburg, dad handed me the Angel Day Verve page from The Star newspaper with instruction to make him the Cactus Pear Chutney for when he and mom come down over Easter.ย  You would think that prickly pears would be available on every street corner here in the Eastern Cape but alas, on the few occasions that I have been in town, not one prickly pear to be seen.ย  Thankfully mom mentioned Food Lovers market who had just enough on hand for the recipe.

The end result is very tasty but I can’t taste the prickly pears.

Prickly (Cactus) Pear Chutney

As seen in the Thursday March 8 2012 edition of Verve, The Star


15 large prickly pears peeled and chopped
4 medium onions peeled and chopped
2cm knob fresh ginger grated
180ml sugar
150ml white vinegar
2 sticks cinnamon


  1. Simmer the prickly pears in a pot over a medium heat until soft.
  2. Strain and remove the pips by pushing the pulp and liquid through a sieve and scraping the underneath side of the sieve as you go along.
  3. Place the strained pulp and liquid with the remaining ingredients in the pot and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half until reduced and thick, stirring occasionally.
  5. Pour into a sterilised jar / jars seal and cool.

Serve the chutney with a cheese platter and or cold meats and crusty bread.

60 thoughts on “Prickly (Cactus) Pear Chutney

    • I don’t think prickly pears have a strong enough flavour to be paired with onions, so you are quite right Tandy. Prickly pears are perfect being eaten just as they are. Have a great weekend too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. Hi Mandy, Maybe a dash of balsalmic vinegar as well would give the chutney a dash of colour. As chutney flavours go, sometimes onions can overpower the taste. I remember making a batch of cauliflower chutney and threw the whole lot out! Not worth putting in a jar.I learnt from that mistake. As like prickly pear, it’s a mild subtle flavour! Have a great weekend. x

  2. Hi!
    I had to google prickly pears because I had no idea of what it was…And I discovered that is a very common plant around here, we call it chumbera and its fruits are higos chumbos. I didn’t know that the cactus was edible. Thanks for the info and the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Prickly pear have always intrigued me, Mandy, but I’ve never known what to do with them. It’s a shame, after all that work, that you were unable to taste the pears but it looks like your blogging buddies have come to the rescue with some great suggestions. It’s a great community to be a part of, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It is a brilliant community / family to belong to John. ๐Ÿ˜€ My first prize for prickly pears would be to peel and eat – perfect just as they are. Have a super weekend John. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This looks delicious. I love chutney, but have yet to make one. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a prickly pear…maybe I did. I’m going to have to pay attention next time when we go to the produce market. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • As far as chutneys go Kristy, this is a super easy one to make. I will endeavour to find the pics I took of the prickly pears (hope I still have them) and will post them for everybody. Have a super weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. You know my wife Liz has been bugging me for the longest time to purchase cactus and make something with it. I haven’t had a reason to until now. Thanks for sharing Mandy and enjoy your weekend!

  6. OMG, I have the pickly pear in my backyard! I wasn’t sure when I read it but you mentioned cuctus and I was once told that the red thing on cucuts is edible. I Googled it and pickly pear is the red thing!! WOW…. Should I go get some from my backyard now? =D

    • Oh how very exciting Nami – wish I had a prickly pears growing in my back yard! Just be very careful when picking them as they have horrible hairy thorns that get stuck in your skin. I am doing a post on Monday on how to peel them. Have a super weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Around here, we see two treatments of prickly pear that are quite different from the idea of a chutney: just juicing the fruit, or using the leaves as vegetables. Most commonly, we see the beautiful ruby-colored variety of the fruit, which makes a mighty fine addition to a Margarita (for example!) and would certainly make a pretty version of your chutney if the flavor could be brought out a bit more. I’d probably substitute apple for at least half of the onion and see if that didn’t let the prickly pear’s flavor shine through. Yvette’s idea of balsamic vinegar could give some of that same color to your paler-tinted version of the fruit, or could enhance our version too, I’ll bet. Meanwhile, I have had delicious julienned leaf ‘meat’ from the cactus sauteed, grilled and deep fried (with something rather like a crispy tempura coating), and think the grilled *nopales* (or *nopalitos*) may be my favorite.

    • I love the ruby look of the red prickly pears – sadly I have not eaten the sweeter red variety – don’t seem to get it around our parts. Guess then I should pop over so we can enjoy one of those Margarita’s together – might have to try a few other variations while we are about it too – all for research purposes of course. Substituting apple for half the onion is an outstanding idea and with the red fruit would most definitely have a better eye appeal – and while we are enjoying those prickly pear cocktails, we could enjoy some crispy fried cactus leaves too. ๐Ÿ˜€ xo

  8. Prickly Pear? That is a new one for me. I have heard of them but I have never seen them and certainly not cooked with them. I will try to source some as your chutney looks like it would have great flavour xx

    • Hi Raymund, I am posting a picture tomorrow of what a prickly pear looks like. It has it’s own unique and very delicious flavour but nothing like a pear. It is a lovely light and refreshing flavour. Have a super Sunday. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I do love a chutney, though i have never seen or eaten a prickly pear, do they have a different consistency for other pears? are they tangier? even though you cannot taste them in the chutney.. c

    • Do pop over tomorrow C, I will have a pic of a prickly pear for you to see. Hmm, how to explain the flavour and texture of a prickly pear… it has the consistency of watermelon (sort of) with passion fruit (granadilla) type pips and I guess I could like the flavour to a honeydew melon (sort of) but not – oh my, this isn’t easy – I can tell you though that they are delicious! Have a lovely day. The temperature has dropped BIG time here – feels like it is going to be a cold winter, brrr. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a prickly pear ~ I can’t seem to call up a consistent set of images on line… looking forward to seeing the image you post. Love the ginger in your chutney – yum!

  11. You’re so awesome making this for your parents! Mine keep giving me recipes to make so I will post them:) This looks like an awesome one!! Funny you couldn’t taste the prickly pears.. I’ve never had one, so I wouldn’t even know!

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