When you imagine a cactus plant and how it looks, you think it can be an inedible plant because of its spikes that scare most of us. Its looks may deceive you into thinking it does not have any nutritional value. The prickly pear plant grows in plenty in America. If you have come across the prickly cactus pear, it has many thorn-like spikes, and its leaves are fleshier. Where do you find prickly cactus pear? And what does prickly pear cactus taste like? You will find prickly pear plant in semi-arid and arid areas, and it does well in such environments.
What is a prickly pear?
Prickly pear fruit is an opuntia plant, which belongs to a cacti family; the fruit is red, which grows on the paddles’ edges and is more prevalent in Arizona.
If you want the fruit in plenty, you will wait till September; this is when the plant produces more attractive and very bright-colored flowers, which makes it the best harvesting season.
How do you eat prickly pear fruit? You can easily prepare cactus wine from its fruit; the Mexican culture commonly practices it; they ferment the fruit juice and pulp to get good wine.
What does prickly cactus pear taste like?
So, what does prickly pear cactus taste like? Will you find it difficult to differentiate between the pineapple’s taste and the prickly pear taste? The fruit contains many seeds and has a sweet fleshy pulp; others may also compare the taste of watermelon with prickly pear fruit as similar.
If you taste several prickly pear fruits, you may realize that the taste may not be the same; this is because the first fruits have a concentrated flavor. Prickly pear fruit is commonly known as tuna, and it contains a lot of nutrients.
How to select and store a cactus pear fruit
Make your harvesting season the month of September to increase your yields; this month, the fruit produces many bright, colorful flowers, which is a sign of ripening of fruits. During harvesting, follow the following steps:
Make sure you wear gloves first before going on with any harvesting activity, then use tongs to make easy removal of fruit from the cactus pads.
Make sure you leave green fruits to be safe for the next generation reproduction; after that, put harvested fruits in buckets, rinse the fruits, dry them, and remove the spines.
How to eat prickly pear cactus
So, how do you eat prickly pear fruit? Rinse appropriately after harvesting, make it dry and remove all the spines, cut the bottom and top parts of the fruit using a sharp knife and dispose of. Chop to different sizes according to your preference, and then eat with a prickly pear recipe of your choice. If you like the fruit that you never want to let go of, even the seeds, go ahead, it does not harm you.
How to add prickly pear into your diet
You will realize that the prickly pear cactus plant is edible, but not all the plant’s parts are edible; the edible features include:
- Pads: This is a fleshy part of the cactus that you can use as a vegetable, either cook or boil, and add to your soups or salads.
- Fruit: You can eat fresh fruits, plus their seeds if you like. Some people eat the fruits plus the seeds; they are too delicious.
- Flowers: You can add to salads to give a different flavor.
For you to eat prickly pear fruit, rinse the fruit with water and peel the outer skin, and eat the fleshy pulp if you are a first-timer, learn how to harvest the fruit before trying, handle the fruit keenly because it has sharp spines that can prick your hands; you can use the fruit to prepare jams and jellies.
It is hard to come by fresh fruits in grocery stores, but you can find its extracts with the same nutritional values and tastes as the real fresh fruit readily available from outlets and grocery stores. Get prickly pear water from fruit juice through filtering and add lemon juice for a good taste.
Prickly pear fruit benefits include:
- Eating prickly pear fruit helps reduce the number of cholesterols in your body due to fiber in the fruit, eliminating cholesterols.
- If you consume the fruit at a higher concentration, it kills cancerous cells; it also contains flavonoid compounds that remove free radicals, a potential cause of cancer. It also improves the activities of pro-oxidants enzymes.
- Consuming prickly pear fruit helps in blood sugar regulation; the fiber contents reduce glucose’s intestinal absorption, leading to fewer intakes and absorption of sugary substances into the body.
- Regularly eating prickly pear fruit will enhance your body’s immune system because they are rich in vitamin C, helping the body inf fighting infections.
- Eating nopal cactus leads to absorption of glucose, unhealthy fats, and bile, and when all these are eliminated from your body, your colon remains clean. Also, antioxidants in prickly pear fruit damage the free radicals, further helping in protecting the colon.
- Consuming prickly pear fruit helps strengthen your bones and teeth because the fruit contains calcium.
- Eating prickly pear fruit helps skin softening; it contains vitamin E and K; and fatty acids, which nourish the skin, preventing your skin from forming wrinkles.
So, what does prickly pear taste like? Its taste is sweet. The plant has edible parts that you can choose to feast on; these edible parts include pads, flowers, and fruit.
You can eat the fruit immediately after following the steps keenly for harvesting; make slices and eating, or adding to soups and salads. Use the pads as vegetables in your kitchen.
Why eating prickly pear fruit benefit? It adds many nutrients, including vitamin E and K, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and many more, playing significant roles in our bodies.
You can find fresh fruits in the market or their extracts; their contents have no difference. You can also add to other prickly pear recipes to make good flavors. If you love wine, you can make some too from the fruit juice.