How to remove spines from prickly pear fruit (3 ways)

In this brief guide, we answer the question ‘How to remove spines from prickly pear fruit?’

In this guide, we will look at three ways to rid spines from the prickly pear fruit. The guide covers two aspects of the process, from safe harvesting to treating them at home.  

How to remove spines from prickly pear fruit?

Prickly pear, also known as nopales, Indian Fig, tuna, Sabra, or paddle cactus, is a delicious fruit. However, you must safely remove the glochids or tiny prickly needles from the prickly pear fruit that are capable of stinging you. This cactus plant has a tough exterior, that if not handled carefully, could hurt you. However, their insides are fleshy and delicious like that of dragonfruits and saguaro.

Besides being delicious, prickly pear fruits are rich in vitamin C, fiber, calcium, and magnesium. Prickly fruits are found widely in the US as a common landscaping plant. Prickly pear fruits grow in arid and semi-arid regions such as the US, Mexico, Australia, and Africa.

The prickly fruit spines

Glochis or the thorns are so thin and inconspicuous that they are hard to be wary of and can get stuck without you even knowing. Though not detrimental if swallowed or penetrated through the skin, it can cause lasting discomfort. The long Paddle-like stems of the prickly pears called nopales are harmless and edible.

 The flowers are not only colorful and beautiful but are also edible. The fruits are known as tunas can be found in different sizes. They are yellow-green or magenta from the inside. Pear fruit tastes the sweetest in their ripe form when they are green and firm on the outside.

You can easily pick your ripe fruits using a pair of tongs or wear thick tongs or your hands to dislodge the fruit from the cactus. However, tiny bristles from the plant can detach and etch onto an external object such as human flesh. A close encounter with the plant can make the spine protrude into human skin. It can go unnoticeable until you remove it, then cause a sharp prickly pain.

 After you have cut off your fruit with a sharp knife, be sure to store it safely. Putting the fruit in an impenetrable container would prevent the spines from sticking out. Remove the spines soon as possible after you have geared up with utensils and gloves.

The Popular way of removing spines from the prickly pear fruit

Remember to wear gloves while you perform the shaving process.

Start by cutting up the ends of the fruit, steady it without letting your hands come in direct contact with it to prevent the spines from sticking onto you.

Make a longitude cut just deep enough to reach the fruit and pry it open. Doing so would enable to remove the fruit from its skin quite easily.

After picking the pear fruit up carefully using a fork, leaving it in would ensure that the flesh doesn’t get ripped out and put it into a water-filled bucket and swirl it around with a big spoon. Let the prickles wash away in the sink. If not all, then this would get rid of most of the needles. You could directly put it in the sink under running water. Empty your sink beforehand so that the thorns can drain off immediately.

The running water helps to get rid of the thorns. To get rid of the remaining thorns uses a nylon brush to shave off. Make sure to have rubber gloves on when you perform this part.

Now hold onto the fork chop off one end of the fruit. Rotate it and chop off the other end as well

You could use a potato peeler or a vegetable brush to remove the spines and glochids and wash the fruit afterward.

Another 3 Methods

You could follow either of the three ways as well to remove the glochids. 

Another convenient method uses a freezer to freeze the whole fruit for 24 hours. Then you let it thaw inside a colander. After it defrosts, the juice should come right out. Layering up with some paper towels helps to filter the glochids.

Use a blowtorch or a burning flame to scorch and eliminate the spine off.

If you have access to Elmer’s glue, you can use it to strip the spines off. When you apply Elmer’s glue to the thorns, let dry, and then peel off the formed layer. You could even make use of duct tape or masking tape.  


In this guide, we looked at three ways to rid spines from the prickly pear fruit. The two aspects of the process are harvesting and then treating them at home.  Both of these steps have to be performed with caution to prevent barbering ourselves from the fruit. The mentioned procedures are helpful when removing spines from the prickly pear fruit.