The nopal is delicious and provides excellent benefits for the body, but I’m sure you know that, so today, I will teach you how to preserve nopales, which is why you are here.
It is possible to store the nopal in the fridge for 35 days. You can extend its shelf life by making a brine for 8 months, preparing a jam for 1 year, and dehydrating or picking the nopales for over a year. Never freeze it.
Since you know the methods you can use to preserve the nopal, I invite you to continue reading so that you learn how to carry out each of these.
Keep nopales in the fridge
If you want to keep the nopal fresh, it is best to store it in the fridge. If done correctly, you will keep it in perfect condition for a few weeks.
Follow the instructions below to keep the nopal in the fridge.
- Step 1. Choose the nopales
When buying the nopales, you must make sure that they are fresh and in good condition and buy them with their thorns to prevent them from rusting quickly.
- Step 2. Place in a container
Some people usually keep them in bags, but to extend their shelf life, place the nopal in a recent or baskets with perforations to let the air pass.
- Step 3. Store in the fridge
Store in the refrigerator at a temperature of not less than 41°F (5°C).
You can store the nopales in perfect condition in the fridge for up to 35 days.
How to make canned nopales
Canning nopales is an excellent option to preserve the nopales longer, but also you want to cook them.
Follow the steps below to prepare canned nopales.
- Step 1. Choose a bottle and sterilize
To store the nopales, you must choose a glass jar. Then, boil the pot for 10 min to sterilize it.
- Step 2. Cook the nopales
In a saucepan with not much water, since the nopales will release their own water, add the nopales with some garlic and onions and let them boil for 10 min or until it is brownish and still a little stiff.
It is usually one tablespoon, half an onion, one garlic, and a pint of water every three nopales leaves.
- Step 3. Transfer the nopales to the bottle
Transfer the nopales with the sauce you cooked them in step 2. Fill the jar until you leave one finger of space, and close the jar tightly.
- Step 4. Store the nopales
Store it upside down in a dark place. Following these steps, you can preserve the canned nopales for one year.
Store nopales in brine
Brine is a very effective method for preserving nopales and is also helpful in storing them cooked.
Follow the steps below to keep the nopales in brine.
- Step 1. Cooking the nopales
To cook the nopales, place a saucepan with water over high heat. Once it begins to boil, pour the nopales along with tomato peels. When the water boils again, leave for 3 minutes and turn off the heat.
- Step 2. Let drain
With the help of a strainer, drain the nopales and go for 5 seconds through cold water to stop cooking.
- Step 3. Prepare the brine
In a saucepan, pour water, salt, and sugar, then let it boil for 2 minutes.
- Step 4. Packaging the nopales
Transfer the nopales to the glass jar trying to make them compacted, and when it is still boiling, pour the brine carefully, avoiding bubble forms and place the lid without tightening. Be sure to leave one finger gap between the contents and the cover.
- Step 5. Place in a water bath
Place the jars in boiling water for 15 minutes to seal better.
- Step 6. Let cool
Very carefully remove the containers from the water, close the lid tightly and let it cool to room temperature.
- Step 7. Store nopales
Once cold, store them in a cool, dry, and dark place. After opening it, I recommend storing it in the fridge.
Using this method, you can keep nopales for eight months. 
How to dehydrate nopales
Dehydrated nopales can be a delicious snack and an excellent conservation method, so below, we will explain how to make dehydrated nopales.
- Step 1. Cut and clean the nopales
Cut the nopales into small pieces. The thinner, the less they will take to dehydrate. In a container with water, lemon and salt, place the nopales for 5 minutes and then let them drain.
- Step 2. Place on a tray
Place the nopales in the dehydrator tray, leaving spaces between them.
- Step 3. Leave in the dehydrator
Dehydrate the nopales at 140 to 150°F (60 to 65 °C).
- Step 4. Store the nopales
After the dehydration process, place the nopales in an airtight container and store them in a dry and cool place.
Following these steps, you will be able to save your dehydrated nopales for up to one year.
How to make nopal jam
A delicious way to preserve the nopal is the jam. You can eat it alone, as an accompaniment, or use it in different desserts. The jam can last for a long time, so that you can eat it any time of the year.
Follow these steps to prepare a nopal jam.
- Step 1. Wash and cut the nopal
Cut into small pieces the nopal you are going to use, Wash and let drain
- Step 2. Pre-cook the nopal
In a casserole with boiling water, place the nopal and let pre-cook for 10 minutes over low heat.
- Step 3. Grind the nopal
Once cooked and soft, grind the nopal and pass it through a strainer to obtain a smooth pulp.
- Step 4. Transfer to a pot
Add sugar and two tablespoons of lemon juice to the pot, stir and let it boil until it evaporates a third of its volume. Next, add sugar to the nopal and then add it to the mixture and let it cook for five more minutes. Do not stop stirring at any time.
- Step 5. Transfer to a container
Once ready, transfer the mixture, even hot, to a glass container.
Can raw nopales be frozen?
Raw nopales are one of those foods that do not freeze very well since low temperatures usually cause burns. However, it is possible to freeze cooked nopales, but I don’t recommend freezing them, considering there are other long-term storage options.
How to know if the nopal is bad?
As with any food, we must make sure that the nopal is in good condition before consuming it or even buying it. So below, we will tell you some of the signs you must check when the nopal is bad.
- When it begins to be damaged, you can see some stains.
- If it has a bad smell, it is also a sign of deterioration.
- It begins to darken due to oxidation.
- If mold is present, you should discard it.
How long does the nopal last?
The shelf life of the nopal will depend on how fresh it is when you buy it and the method you use for its preservation, so below, I added a table that summarizes it.
|Nopal in the fridge||35 days|
|Canned nopal||1 year|
|Nopal in brine||8 months|
|Dehydrated nopal||1 year|
|Pickled nopal||1 to 2 years|
|Nopal jam||1 year|
What is the best way to store nopales?
The best way to preserve when keeping the nopal fresh is to store it in the fridge since it will remain perfect for 35 days.
If you want to extend the shelf life, the best method is the canning since the quality is pretty much the same but cooked.
There are other storage methods where you can modify the flavor of the nopal, which may be a good idea on certain occasions. However, the technique that keeps the nopales with their natural flavor as most is canning.
If you liked this post, I invite you to continue browsing this site, where you will find all the information you need to know about storage and preservation.