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Making Prickly Pear Juice: How-to video from the College of ACES

A newly published video teaches viewers how to prepare prickly pear cactus juice: a delicacy in the Southwest. The juice is cooked and made into a syrup or a brine often used in desserts, drinks and other recipes.

New Mexico State University Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Amber Benson-Lehmer, instructor in the video, demonstrates the step-by-step process of making prickly pear cactus juice from the cactus fruit or tuna, as it’s called in Spanish.

The video covers details about the tools and clothes needed to safely harvest the tunas as well as the goods and kitchenware needed to clean and process them. One segment shows how to remove their tiny hair-like barbed thorns, called glochids. And another segment shows the method used to extract the juice from the fruit.

Tunas are usually harvested in August or September, when the fruit is purplish in color and ripe.

The image is a screenshot of the video discussed in the blog, portraying Amber, a master food preserver, next to a table with glasses and jars on top.
This collaboration with Bernalillo County Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent Amber Benson-Lehmer shows how multimedia can be an effective too used to educate the public and also promote Extension programs.

Scenes for the video were videotaped at the Bernalillo County Extension office plant garden and in the kitchen facilities. Footage was recorded in one day, and the raw footage was edited into a short, 3-minute video. It was Amber’s first time on camera, and her Extension peers gave her great reviews for the prickly pear presentation. Amber says she was nervous about being on camera for the first time, but the video crew’s professionalism, guidance and patience made things easier for her.

"Working with Art and Tomilee of the IMRE department provided a lot of insight into the way we can collaborate to share Cooperative Extension Services to a more diverse audience. They were incredibly professional and really brought a unique perspective to the educational programming we offer through Extension. When our communities have questions, it makes it incredibly accessible to share resources like this Prickly Pear instructional video."

– Amber Benson-Lehmer

Art Ruiloba and Tomilee Turner, video producers for the Department of Innovative Media Research and Extension, visited the Bernalillo County Extension Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico and collaborated with Cooperative Extension Service Family and Consumer Sciences Agents, Amber Benson-Lehmer and Cindy Schelenker-Davies, retired County Program Director for Bernalillo County Extension. The video project was administered through the Department of Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Department at New Mexico State University under the guidance of Nancy Flores, Extension Food Technology Specialist.

The video supports print resources available at the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences Food & Nutrition publication website:

Watch the “Making Prickly Pear Cactus Juice” video here:

Written by Art Ruiloba, Video Production Specialist, Innovative Media, Research & Extension.


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