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Pickled Nopales and Peppers

Pickled Nopales and Peppers

We have an opuntia cactus (prickly pear) plant in the garden, and we harvest the paddles (nopales) to make this pickled dish. You can buy pre-trimmed, cut nopal in many supermarkets if you do not have access to the fresh variety. This is a spicy condiment that goes great with burritos or other Mexican dishes. It is also wonderful on veggie burgers.

Makes about 2-3 cups.


  • 4-5 large cactus pads
  • 1 Tbsp coarse salt
  • 1 fresh jalapeño pepper
  • 1 (10 oz) bottle sweet red pepper strips
  • 2/3 c water
  • 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp paprika


  1. Wash cactus pads in colander, but do not handle. (The fine needle-like thorns can easily embed themselves in your fingers. If they do, use duct tape to pull them out.)
  2. Hold tightly where there are no thorns. Use a sharp knife to remove thorns. Cut off thorny edges. Peel surfaces. Cut into small strips. (You should have 2-3 cups of cactus strips.)
  3. Add coarse salt to nopales and toss. Allow to stand 30 minutes. Drain well but do not rinse salt residue off. Place in heat-proof quart-sized bottle or bowl.
  4. Add drained red pepper strips to the nopales. Slice jalapeño in 1/8 inch circles and add to other veggies.
  5. In small saucepan, heat remaining ingredients until they come to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes.
  6. Pour hot liquid over the veggies. Stir and cool. Tightly cover and refrigerate for 2 or more days. Use within a week.

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