Now that the skin is removed, you can slice up the prickly pear to eat. The prickly pear has small, hard seeds that you cannot bite through, but they are safe to swallow if you prefer. Or you can chew on the fruit and seeds and spit the seeds out. You can also use a juicer or strainer to remove the seeds.
Can you eat the fruit of a prickly pear cactus?
The flesh of the prickly pear can be used to make jam, jelly, sorbet, wine, and "cactus candy." The seeds can be consumed with the fruit (but be careful not to bite into them, as they're quite hard) or spit out. Some people eat the seeds in soup or dry them to be ground into flour.
Known to few, the fruit of the nopales cactus (cacti with beaver tail-like paddles), are actually quite edible. Called prickly pears, these neon fruits provide delicious juice that tastes like a cross between all-natural bubble gum (if indeed there is such a thing) and watermelon.
The fruit is eaten by jackrabbits, peccaries, deer, squirrels, birds, iguanas, tortoises, and beetles. Many animals eat prickly pear during droughts. Ranchers burn off the spines so that cattle can graze on them. Prickly pear mounds provide shelter for many animals, including wood rats, rattlesnakes, and some birds.
As the seeds grow, keep the soil moist until they germinate. Water the soil when it starts to become dry to the touch. Prickly pears grown from seeds tend to take longer to grow than propagated plants, and the resulting cacti could take three to four years to produce flowers and fruit.
- Notice whether the glochids, or tiny spines, have fallen off.
- Watch their color change from green to a solid red or yellow color.
- Squeeze the prickly pears gently and carefully.
- Notice whether the flower cavities on top of the fruit are flattening.
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There is a specific time of the day and year for harvesting edible cactus pads. Prickly pear cactus is the primary source of nopales. In spite of the pad's armament, they have been used for food probably as long as humans have been in their native region. Nopales are eaten either raw or cooked.
No one is sure where it came from. The leaves, vine tips, flowers, and roots are edible; the vines are not. The leaves can be used like spinach and eaten raw, chopped up and baked in quiches, cooked like collards, or deep fried. Young kudzu shoots are tender and taste similar to snow peas.
- Slice both ends of the prickly pear off. Make one long vertical slice down the body of the prickly pear.
- Place peeled prickly pears in blender with 1 cup of water.
- Strain and discard the seeds and pulp.
- Place prickly pear juice back in the blender, with orange juice, and agave syrup.
- Serve over ice.
A member of the Cactaceae (or cactus) family, prickly pear cactus, also known as nopal, grows in the United States, Mexico, and South America. It also flourishes in Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean.
Many edible cacti belong to one of the 200+ Opuntia species, also known as the nopales, nopalitos, the cactus pear, or the paddle cactus. The leaves and egg-shaped fruit (or "tunas") of all Opuntia are edible. You can identify Opuntia species by their oval, flat leaves or "paddles", covered with small spines.
The fruit of many cactus species is edible, but there are also a few species whose stems are regularly eaten as vegetables. The most commonly consumed species is the Prickly Pear, Opuntia ficus-indica, which has wide, flat stem segments.
There's no significantly toxic cactus that my Google could find, and certainly no "poisonous" cacti, though pretty much any substance can be toxic if you consume enough of it. Some sources claim that all cactus fruit is edible, albeit some may be tastier than others.
Nopal -- the prickly pear cactus -- is a common ingredient in Mexican cooking. The flat paddles have their thorns removed and are then cut into slices. They're often bottled in brine and are available in many US supermarkets. They taste sort of like green beans, but with a different texture.
Basically, you're ingesting a substance that your body has to process, which is not recommended. You can drink from a barrel cactus, but only one of five varieties—the fishhook barrel—isn't toxic." Eat cactus fruit, but don't count on it. "There are plenty of edible cactus fruits out there—prickly pear, for example.
Method 3 Juicing the Pears
- Wash the pears under running water.
- Cut off the ends of the fruit.
- Slit the fruit.
- Place the slit fruit into a deep pot.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the cactus pears.
- Remove the fruit from the water.
- Cut the fruit open.
- Scoop out the inside of the fruit.
There are many adaptations that the pancake prickly pear cactus has to the Sonoran Desert. Cacti have reduced their leaves to spines to reduce water loss and to protect the cactus. The roots of the prickly pear cactus are also made for very dry environment to help adapt to the deserts hot weather.
This peculiar fruit is also known as the horned melon, jelly melon, African horned cucumber, hedged gourd, melano, and blowfish fruit. Kiwano connoisseurs describe the flavor of the slimy green interior as a cross between cucumber, zucchini, and kiwifruit (though as it ripens, it tastes more like a banana).
Widely known as dragon fruit, it is indigenous to Central America but is also grown and exported from several Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam.
Method 2 Propagating Prickly Pear
- Find an establish prickly pear to propagate. Another way to grow prickly pear is to use a cutting from an established plant.
- Cut off a pad.
- Let the pad form a callous.
- Prepare a garden pot.
- Plant the pad when the cut has healed.
- Water the plant.
- Place the pad in the sun.
To prepare fresh cactus leaf, scrape the spines off and peel back the skin to reveal the fleshy meat. Add fresh prickly pear cactus leaf, which has a flavor similar to that of green beans, to vegetable and fruit salads, soups or omelettes. You can also boil or fry cactus leaf or cook it into a jelly.