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How to Eat a Cactus Pear

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The fruit of the prickly pear cactus, also called cactus fig or Indian fig has a rugged and -- as you would imagine -- prickly outer skin. Underneath is a delicious, sweet fruit. It can be something of a chore getting through to the fruit, but it's worth the trouble. Choose a prickly pears with a deep color -- either orange or purple for the sweetest fruits. If you have a store-bought prickly pear, the spines of the pear have probably been removed, which means you can handle it with your bare hands.

Handle an unprocessed prickly pear with canvas work gloves and place it in a bowl of cold water. Rub away the spines with an abrasive kitchen scrubber. Or, cut the spines off with a knife.

Remove the skin, while still wearing your gloves, by slicing the top and bottom off with a sharp knife. Cut along the skin of the pear from top to bottom, making the indent deep enough to insert a knife in and peel off the skin.

Chop the prickly pear into pieces.

Prickly Pear Cactus Bugs

This sometimes beneficial insect goes by many names, including cactus coreid, causing a significant amount of confusion when a gardener is trying to determine if they are trouble. Nymphs are similar in shape but with a pale green body and no dramatic outlining. They continue to lay eggs every two to three months for the remainder of their lives, up to about a year. Both nymph and adult forms of prickly pear cactus bugs feed on the pads of prickly pear. They use special structures to pierce the tough leaves and suck the sap from the pad, resulting in conspicuous white to brown dime-sized rings after feeding has been in progress a while.

Tip

The small, dense seeds in the pear are edible, but you should swallow them whole as they are hard and provide quite an unpleasant sensation if you bite through one. Much like a traditional pear, the prickly pear is delicious on its own or you can serve it with plain yogurt. Or, add it to a mixed fruit salad. The sweet juice is delicious on its own or in a juice blend or cocktail. Cactus pear fruit works well in sorbets and ice creams.

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