Hello, amigos! Mexico is one of the best places to find all kinds of delicious fruits and fresh veggies. And even though there’s a lot of fruits I love, I really need to tell you about one of my all-time favorites- the prickly pear. If you’ve never had one, you’ve been missing out on a juicy, sweet, marvelous treat.
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You must think I am obssessed with the cactus! I had already posted about how to make a cactus salad and a cactus smoothie. Then, I had cactus as a side dish to the pozole on Mexican Independence Day. And finally, here I am, insisting you eat a cactus fruit! I have to be crazy, right? Wrong. Hear me out!
3 Good Reasons To Love Prickly Pears
First of all, prickly pears are the sweetest, juiciest, most delicious fruit there is. I’m serious! I’m pretty sure the nopal cactus has thorns only to protect this precious little fruit. It’s so sweet, it could be coated with sugar. In fact, there’s prickly pear candy and jelly, as you can see in this post from My Desert Love.
Second of all, prickly pears are healthy. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eating cactus and prickly pears is great for diabetes patients because they help stabilize glucose. Also, they are delicious. Did I already mention that?
Finally, you should know I come from a place that has a cactus and prickly pears as a part of its national symbols. The Mexican flag has an ancient Aztec symbol in the center- an eagle standing on a cactus and holding a snake. If you look closely, you’ll see the cactus has prickly pear fruit on it. How about that?
In Mexico, prickly pears are called “tunas“, and summer is when they are in season. Here in Central Mexico, you can find them at any market or supermarket from May to September. Better yet, you can drive out to the nopal cactus fields and buy a whole crate of sweet, ripe tunas for a bargain price. You’ll be able to sample freshly cut fruit, with the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan in the background. It doesn’t get any more picturesque that that!
Once you get home, you’ll want to savor these little gems. Did you know they go perfectly well with tequila? There is nothing like having a glass of fine tequila with a platter of tunas on the side. That’s the sweet life!
There are several different colors of prickly pears. They’re all juicy and sweet, they just have slightly different flavors. My favorite is the tuna blanca, or white prickly pear. Those are grown in the area where I live, and they are not really white but honeydew green. Yum!
However, be careful! You don’t want to have a nasty experience and get thorns all over your precious fingers. So, before you dive into that tuna crate, follow these instructions.
How to eat prickly pears and love it
First thing you should know is you can’t just touch a prickly pear. When you buy them, they look harmless. No thorns, right? Wrong! Prickly pear skin has teeny tiny little blisters that are really bothersome if they get stuck on your fingers. But don’t worry! You’ll be fine if you just don’t grab them with the palm of your hand. Are you ready? Let’s do this!
1. Take the prickly pear and hold it at both ends.
2. Slice one end of the prickly pear, but don’t cut it all the way off.
3. Slice the other end the same way.
4. Cut the skin lengthwise.
5. Carefully, pull the skin off.
6. Put the prickly pears in a platter and they’re ready to eat!
You can see in the pictures I’m peeling the prickly pears with my bare hands. That’s because I’ve been peeling them for a long time and one or two little blisters don’t bother me. I just tweeze them right out! But if you have never peeled prickly pears before, I suggest you wear gloves. Regular plastic gloves should be fine.
I forgot to tell you that prickly pears are full of little, hard seeds. Don’t worry! There’s no chance you’ll have a cactus growing in your stomach if you eat them. You can spit them out if you want, or you could juice the prickly pears and filter out the seeds. Or you could also not be picky and eat them. The seeds are full of fiber and that’s partly the reason why prickly pears are so nutritious. Seeds are good for you!
Now, if my baby girl can eat a prickly pear with seeds and all, I’m sure you can too!
So, are you ready to eat a prickly pear? Do it! You’ll love it.
Have you ever had a prickly pear? Would you like to? Leave a comment!
Check out this post about a whole other prickly pear experience- Picking Tunas by Surviving Mexico