Green Cactus Pears
Inventory, lb : 0
Green Cactus pears are small to medium in size with a shape similar to that of an avocado. They begin as yellow, pink, red and purple flowers that grow on the green pads, otherwise known as nopales of the prickly pear cactus. Their exterior is bright green to yellow and uniformly speckled with brown dots, or areoles where their prickly spines, or glochids protrude. Their interior flesh is juicy and creamy yellow in color with hard, edible seeds throughout. When ripe the Green Cactus pear will be aromatic offering a sweet flavor with nuances of classic pear and watermelon.
Cactus pears are available early fall through the spring.
Also known as Cactus apple, Prickly pear, Barbary, Tuna and Indian Fig the Green Cactus pear grows on the prickly pear cactus, which is a member of the cactus family (Cactaceae) and of the genus Oputina.
One Green Cactus pear contains about 40 calories and is low in sodium and cholesterol free. High in both magnesium and vitamin C in the past cactus pears were commonly used by the Spanish to treat sailors suffering from scurvy. Currently Cactus pears are being studied for their ability to help control blood sugar levels and for use in preventing some symptoms associated with hangovers.
Care needs to be taken when handling Cactus pears. Hold with tongs or rubber gloves to prevent penetration of prickly fibers into fingers. Rinse pears in cool water then cut off both ends. Slide the knife through just the exterior skin of the pear from end to end and then gently peel away the skin by slipping the tip of a knife under the skin. The flesh of the pear can be sliced and used fresh in fruit and green salads or as a topping for yogurt and cereal. The flesh can also be pressed through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds and make a puree. Use the pureed fruit as a base for sorbets and smoothies or add to salad dressings and sauces. Slow cook to make preserves to serve atop muffins, pancakes and tarts. Add pureed or sliced Green Cactus pear to juices and cocktails.
Native to Mexico and the Americas, both the pears and pads of the prickly pear cactus have long been popular not only for their use as a staple food but for their medicinal purposes as well. The Cactus pear first made its way to Europe by way of Christopher Columbus in 1495. Spreading through the Mediterranean the fruit of the cactus became extremely popular in Sicily where it thrived in the dry terrain and warm climate. Commercial farming of the Cactus pear in the United States began in the early 1900’s by a Sicilian immigrant in California by the name of Marco Rancadore. Much of the supply was shipped to the east coast where demand for the pear was higher due to the population of Italian Americans and demand for new and interesting produce items not available in the area.
Recipes that include Green Cactus Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Ms. Adventures In Italy||Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Vinaigrette|
|Scrumptious South Africa||Salad of Prickly Pears, Feta and Watercress|
|Fx Cuisine||Cactus Fruit Sorbet|
|Spoon Fork Bacon||Prickly Pear Fizz|
|The Mija Chronicles||Prickly-Pear Agua Fresca|
People have spotted Green Cactus Pears using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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