What is the shelf life of prickly pears? 

Prickly pear cactus has become a popular fruit in recent years. It looks great in salads, juices, smoothies, and even desserts. But how long does it last once picked?

There are many questions surrounding the shelf life of prickly pears. Some say they only last a few days while others claim they will last weeks. In reality, the shelf life of prickly pears depends on several factors including storage temperature, ripeness, and variety.

I’ve done extensive research to find out exactly how long prickly pears should last after being harvested. This information will help you decide if you want to buy them fresh or store them for later use.

Table of Contents

    How long can you keep prickly pear?

    The shelf life of prickly pear depends on how it is stored. They should be stored at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerated. Ripe prickly pears are red all over. Ripen by leaving them fruits at room temperature.

    Fresh prickly pears (whole) 

    Whole prickly pear

    A whole prickly pear has a hard skin but once peeled off, the inside flesh is tender and juicy. This fruit does not last too long, even stored in the refrigerator. That is why it is best to eat them fresh.

    What is the shelf life of whole prickly pears?

    • Room temperature: 2 to 5 days or until ripe
    • Refrigerator: 1 to 3 days once ripe
    • Freezer: 10 to 12 months (best quality) 

    At room temperature, whole cactus pears can keep for up to five days. Once they are ripe, you should refrigerate them immediately. They will stay good for three days in the fridge and up to a year if frozen.

    Fresh prickly pears (cut) 

    Cut prickly pear

    Remember to carefully wrap cut prickly pears with plastic wrap or aluminum foil before storing them in the refrigerator, or to store them in an airtight container. 

    How long does peeled/cut prickly pear last?

    Prickly pears contain lots of tiny edible seeds when they’re peeled. If you like, you can just go ahead and eat every part of the fruit including its seeds. If you plan on eating them later, you can store them in your refrigerator or freezer. 

    • Refrigerator: 3 to 4 days
    • Freezer: 10 to 12 months (best quality) 

    Once cut, the shelf life is about 4 days in the fridge. If you want to further extend its shelf life, you can freeze it for up to a year.

    Do you refrigerate prickly pears?

    Yes. The fruits will last longer if stored in the refrigerator. However, they’re best eaten immediately after purchasing them. Store in a single layer of your crisper. If you have them in bulk, you can store them in the freezer. This will break down the fruit but it is still useful to make juice or preserves.

    Can you freeze prickly pear fruit?

    Prickly pears can be frozen for up to one year. To do this, place them onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and then put them into the freezer for about 2 hours. 

    Once frozen, take them out and transfer them into a Ziploc bag, and put them back in the freezer. Keep in mind that freezing will leave them mushy but they can still be used for juice. You also need to thaw them before using them.

    How do you preserve a prickly pear cactus?

    You can preserve prickly pears by making jams, jellies, sauces, and other delicious treats. You can also store them in the refrigerator or freezer for future use.

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