As the summer days left on the calendar dwindle and we start thinking that the weather is going to change, the appearance of cactus pears remind us that time marches on. Cactus Pear Margaritas are always a welcome thought at the end of the day, and we watch the sun set on the horizon.
Not All Cactus Pears Are The Same
You will need cactus pears to make Cactus Pear Margaritas, but not all cactus pears are the same. Every now and then I will see imported cactus pears in the supermarket, which are generally the Xoconostle variety that grows throughout Mexico. Some of the imported Mexican cactus pears have green flesh, some have deep purple flesh, and are traditionally served by street vendors who keep them icy and chilled on large blocks of ice.
By contrast, a South Texas cactus pear may never come in contact with ice. They spend their time baking in the sun until a hungry bird or a creative cocktail maker stops by for an inspection. If you are going to forage for cactus pears, make sure that they are near some shade, and that they have not been roasting in the hot weather for several weeks. Try to harvest the cactus pears in the morning when it is cool, and when they are newly ripened.
Harvesting Cactus Pears is Easy
Harvesting is easy – just take some metal tongs with you, along with a metal pan. Cactus thorns are serious business, and are often tiny and invisible. And for Heaven’s sake, watch for snakes! Cactus pears and rattlesnakes are iconic in South Texas, and are often found side by side.
Once you have your cactus pears, carefully remove the outer skin, and never touch them with your hands. Peeling them over newspaper and then discarding the newspaper is recommended. Once they are peeled, give them a quick rinse in water to flush away any tiny thorns that you may have missed.
The rest is easy – make a puree, strain out the pulp, and combine to make your margarita.
This recipe is for a margarita on the rocks, which is my preference. The cactus pears give the margarita a little flavor boost, but add incredible color to this signature cocktail.Print
Cactus Pear Margaritas
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Beverages
- Method: Blending
- Cuisine: South Texas
1 tbsp. granulated sugar (12g)
1 tbsp. kosher salt (12g)
1 tsp. chile powder (4g)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
4–5 cactus pears (4oz or 113g)
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (120ml)
4 oz. orange liqueur (120ml)
4 oz. tequila (120ml)
Fresh limes for garnish
Select four cocktail glasses for serving. On a shallow plate, add the sugar, salt and chile powder, mixing to combine well. Place the egg white on a separate shallow plate. Turn the cocktail glass upside down and wet the rim of the glass evenly with the egg white. Dip the wet rim of the glass in the sugar/salt/chile mixture, and coat well. Allow to air dry for a minute or two while you prepare the margarita.
Carefully peel and rinse the cactus pears (see photos.) In a tall glass, combine the cactus pears and lime juice. Using an immersion blender, blend into a puree. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove all seed and pulp. Discard the pulp.
Load a cocktail shaker with ice, and add the cactus pear juice, orange liqueur, and tequila. Shake for 5-7 seconds, and then pour into the prepared glasses.