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Prickly Pear Fruit Capture

Prickly Pear Fruit Capture

Picking and Preparing Prickly Pear Fruit

Who knows why anyone would want to do this, but we have followers who insist it's a thing. It turns out that the brightly coloured egg-shaped "pears" of the Opuntia cactus are beautiful, extremely healthy, tasty, and potentially free of charge if you find them growing wild, but one thing stands between you and an excellent feed - the thorns!

The prickly pear certainly didn't earn its name in vain, with every minuscule eyelet you observe on the prickly pear fruit skin is riddled with barbed, hair-like prickle masses called glochids.

Using gardening gloves is an absolute no-no as the tiny hairs easily work their way into - and eventually through - the fabric and you'll get pricked every time you wear them in the future. Using some items you probably have on hand will do the trick. You'll need:

  • BBQ tongs
  • A blowtorch or source of fire
  • A sharp knife

Once you've located your cactus of choice, go ahead and use the tongs to snap off a pretty looking "pear", at this point you'll need to scorch off all the glochids. Be sure to give the entire surface a good going over, but don't cook the fruit. 

Once you're satisfied that touching the fruit isn't going to cause you any harm, you're ready to get back in the kitchen. Using a sharp knife, slice off the top and bottom of the fruit and make an incision approximately 1cm deep down it's length. Opening this cut like a book, you'll find you can easily detach the thick inedible skin from a central core of juicy, ready to eat "pear".

Prickly pear are a wonderfully healthy and surprisingly versatile fruit, prickly pears can be used in any number of recipes. In fact, they are applicable in any situation where you might otherwise use a real pear, an apple, or a watermelon.

Image: Brian Lasenby/Shutterstock

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