Yellow Cactus Pears
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Yellow cactus pears are egg-shaped fruit that are two to four inches long, similar in size and shape to kiwi. The sweet insides have a formidable thick skin covered in spines. The flesh is very watery, but also sweet. Yellow varieties tend to be less sweet than the red. There are several black seeds throughout the yellow or orange flesh. The taste is tropical, with notes of banana, watermelon, melon, and fig.
Yellow cactus pears are available late summer through early winter.
Yellow cactus pears are the fruits of prickly pear cactus, Opuntia ficus-indica. Other varieties of cactus pears come in shades of green, orange, pink, and red. Botanically, cactus pears are considered berries.
Cactus pears contain several nutrients such as Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Cactus pears can either be eaten raw or cooked, but must have their spines removed first. Choose fruits that are unblemished and firm, with shiny skin free from mold. To remove spines, use gloves to remove with pliers. Then cut off both ends of the fruit, use a knife to make a slit all the way between the ends, and peel off the skin. Alternatively, use a flame to burn off the spines. Raw, they are frequently eaten chilled. After the spines have been removed, cut a cactus pear in half lengthwise and simply eat the flesh with a spoon; they are very refreshing eaten this way. Once peeled, they can also just be eaten whole, or cut up into cubes. Generally, seeds should not be eaten. The raw flesh can also be pureed to use on ice cream, with yogurt, or in smoothies. Cooked, use yellow cactus pears in jams, syrups, or as pie filling. The flavor pairs well with chicken, shrimp, and other tropical fruits such as lemon, lime, banana, and fruits such as watermelon and honeydew melon. Yellow cactus pears will last about a week when stored properly. To ripen them, leave them on the counter.
Cactus pears have several names around the world. In Spanish, the fruit is called tuna, while the pads of the prickly pear are called nopales. They are also commonly called Indian figs and prickly pears.
Prickly pears are native to the Americas, and were eaten by many groups of native people as a source of water. They now grow in several parts of the world, including the American Southwest, the Mediterranean, and Mexico, although they are most often grown commercially in Mexico. The yellow cactus pear, however, is most often grown for sale in Italy.
Recipes that include Yellow Cactus Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Spoon Fork Bacon||Prickly Pear Fizz|
|Little Sunny Kitchen||Prickly Pear Lemonade|