Prickly Pear Aqua Fresca

prickly pear aqua fresca

Looking for something refreshing to cool off in this heat wave? We got exactly what you need. Shaped like a kiwi, but with a distinct deep purplish red hue and covered with pock marks where thorns used to reside, prickly pears or la tuna have always caught our eye as we cruised along the fruit section of the many multi-ethnic markets of Los Angeles.  For too long it was just a curious afterthought, that is, until we tasted our first prickly pear aqua fresca, drink  at a recent food event. Aqua fresca simply means fruit water and is a refreshingly simple fruit drink popular throughout Mexico. You can find infinite varieties as there are fruit and even vegetables get into the act too such as a cool cucumber aqua fresca.

prickly pear

We headed to our nearest latin market to recreate this at home. You may find both red and green varieties.  We noticed the red variety has a more floral fragrance, however both are delicious. Our favorite are the red ones. The taste is difficult to describe, sort of like pink bubble gum.  Arising from the opuntia cactus, these fruit can be found growing wild throughout the southwest.  They are often used in drinks, candies and jellies.

prickly pear

We’ve yet to experiment because we use them all as drinks so quickly.  If you’re not from the southwest, prickly pear syrups are available, albiet pricy.   So if you’re living out in the west and have stopped and stared at these prickly pears in the latin markets, stop staring and grab a pound or two and make this now! Better yet if you see these growing wild, forage them but just be careful of the thorns or just buy your own prickly pear cactus like we did.

prickly pear aqua fresca



Prickly Pear Aqua Fresca

Prep Time: 10 min


2-3 prickly pears
6 cups water
1/4 cup of sugar
juice of 1 lime


Peel the prickly pears by slicing off about 1/4 from the top and bottom. Then cut a shallow slit through the rind and peel away. In a blender, add the prickly pear, water, sugar and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Strain seeds with a fine sieve. Adjust level of sweetness to taste or use any sugar alternatives as desired. Chill over ice and serve.

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4 Responses to “Prickly Pear Aqua Fresca”

  1. 1

    Sarah — August 26, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    That looks good! I’ll have to give it a try. I usually make Prickly Pear Margaritas when they are in season:

  2. 2

    Make your own artisan soda « Kitchen Report — September 10, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

    […] Pear Agua Fresca, I was intrigued after reading about prickly pear punch earlier this summer on The Ravenous Couple’s blog and thought I might find some prickly pears in the supermarket in the Spanish neighborhood near me. […]

  3. 3

    Quyen - Kitchen Runway — September 29, 2012 @ 7:10 am

    I love your prickly pear aqua fresca! Not too sweet and super refreshing. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us!

  4. 4

    AnnN — July 9, 2013 @ 7:39 pm

    This drink is gorgeous looking and I can’t wait to try. The color made me think of Xi Muoi soda and I have been looking all over for a Xi Muoi or also called Vietnamese/Chinese/Taiwanese/Hawaiian preserved plum made from scratch b/c the ones in the store have aspartame and Phenylalanine – not good chemicals.Even the hi ling powder is made of the same stuff. So does anyone know how to make Xi Muoi from scratch using non-toxic ingredients? Thanks.

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