When To Pick Cactus Fruit

Although cactus fruits are typically harvested from July through October, depending on where they are grown, it is common to find them in American grocery shops as late as December. Additionally, because they have been frozen, they occasionally show up in stores outside of their season.

The most prevalent cactus pears in the United States are red and green, but Mexico also has a wide range of different types and hues.

You should check for a few characteristics to identify ripe cactus fruit, including strong skin and a lack of deterioration indicators like bruising, soft patches, or mold.

When ripe, red cactus fruit, also known as tunas rojas, should have little to no green on the skin and should be a deep red color.

Unlike the red kind, green cactus fruit, also known as tunas verdes, won’t undergo significant color change as they develop. The fruit inside is either white or an extremely light shade of green, and the fruit’s exterior color can fluctuate from a very light shade of green to a medium shade as it ripens. The skin can occasionally become a little yellow or palid as they begin to overripen and perish.

How soon should I harvest my prickly pear?

Prickly pears mature throughout August, with the majority of them reaching full maturity in the middle of the month. Understanding how to spot a ripe prickly pear is very crucial. Pick your prickly pear when it is completely red and has lost all of its green color. When harvested, it should simply and with little to no effort separate from the remainder of the plant and drip or leak juice from the end. Your pear might not be quite ripe yet if you encounter more than a little resistance.

When harvesting prickly pears, care must be taken since they have both large spines and smaller glochids that can separate from the plant when they come into touch with other surfaces. When handling prickly pears, always wear long sleeves, long pants, and thick gloves because even a small brush might cause glochid contact. The good news is that glochids may be removed from your skin by applying tape to the affected region with the adhesive side down, then removing the tape to draw the glochids out.

The actual harvesting procedure is rather straightforward. However, doing so brings you closer to the prickly pear (and its nasty, irritant glochids) even though you can remove them by hand while wearing gloves. The preferred alternative is to use tongs. In any case, take hold of the prickly pear fruit firmly but delicately, and twist or break it off at the base, where it joins the remainder of the plant.

When picked, will cactus fruit ripen?

The prickly pear, which is a berry, is a cactus fruit. The prickly pear’s pulp is sweet and juicy, and it has a flavor and perfume that are reminiscent of some of the best tropical and subtropical fruits, including strawberry, watermelon, honeydew melon, fig, and banana.

Once the fruit’s tough, black seeds are removed, the prickly pear’s salmon- or pink-to-magenta-colored flesh can be cut into slices or cubes and eaten uncooked. The flesh can be pureed and used as a flavoring for beverages or added to yogurts, sorbets, or ice cream. The prickly pear is referred to as “cactus candy” in Mexico.

The prickly pear fruit is typically 2 to 4 inches long and shaped like an egg or a barrel; it is comparable in size to a small guava or kiwi fruit. The skin is thick and gritty and can be a mixture of all of these colors, including green, yellow, orange, pink, or red. Blossoms of the same hue precede the color of the fruit and its flesh.

The prickly pear’s skin, which is essentially the rind of the fruit, is coated in hard spikes that need to be delicately removed. The cactus pears’ leaves, known as nopales, are edible as well. They too have prickly hairs or spines covering them.

Season. Late summer to early winter, or September to December in the northern hemisphere, is the peak season for prickly pears.

Select. Pick small, smooth, spotless, deeply colored prickly pears that are firm without being hard. When the fruit is ripe, it will give to light pressure. The skin has to be glossy. Avoid eating rotten or damaged fruit. Prickly pears have a week-long ripening period.

Store. For two to three days, prickly pears can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag. At room temperature, firm prickly pears will ripen and soften in a few days.

Prepare. When preparing the prickly pear for cooking, exercise caution and wear some heavy-duty leather gloves. Cutting off the ends of the pears, removing the spines with pliers, making a small slit down the length of the fruit, and using a sharp knife to peel back the inner and outer layers of the skin from top to bottom. The prickly pear may contain tiny, practically undetectable stinging hairs. The fruit can be cleaned of these hairs by running it over an open flame. Press the fruit through a sieve or food mill to get the seeds out. To avoid the seeds hardening while cooking, make sure to remove them before cooking.

Cook. Slices of prickly pears should be simmered with water and sugar for 15 minutes or until they are soft. After that, combine, filter, and refrigerate. To prepare a salad dressing, mix this pure with white wine vinegar or cider vinegar.

Serve. Serve prickly pears whole, cubed, thinly sliced, or with lemon or lime juice sprinkled on top in fruit cups, salads, or other dishes. The sieved flesh can be used as a flavour for sorbets and yogurts, as well as in punches and cocktails. Prickly pear pure can be used to make juice or jam, as well as a filling for tarts and cakes.

Couples of flavors. Banana, honeydew melon, lemon, lime, orange, tequila, and watermelon are among the foods that prickly pears enjoy most.

Nutrition. Calcium, vitamin C, sodium, magnesium, and potassium are all present in prickly pears in addition to other nutrients. Prickly pears have few calories.

Trivia and facts about prickly pears. The prickly pear is also known as the Indian fig, cactus pear, tuna pear, or tuna fig. The Barbary fig or pear is the name given to the prickly pear in Britain. The prickly pear is known as Sharon’s fruit in Israel. Prickly pears are referred to as tunas in Spain and as fichi d’india in Italy.

Native Americans have long consumed prickly pears, which are indigenous to the Americas’ tropical regions. A member of the Optunia cactus family, which has more than 300 species, is the prickly pear. The majority are from the southwest of the United States or northwest Mexico. The most popular types are “Cardona,” which has a sizable red fruit and blossom, and “Amarilla,” which is primarily yellow.

When is the prickly pear season?

Whatever name you give it—prickly pear, cactus fruit, tuna (Spanish), figure de Barbary (French)—this tasty plant has a lot to offer and is ready for harvesting! In the Northern Hemisphere, prickly pears are at their peak from late summer to early winter, from September to December.

Are green prickly pears edible?

Green cactus pears are rectangular in shape, similar to an avocado, and small to medium in size, measuring 5 to 10 cm on average. The fruits develop from yellow, pink, red, or purple flowers that bloom on nopales or green cactus pads. The thick, light-green skin of the fruit is coated in rough glochids, which are bumps and spines. The skin’s areoles contain very small, invisible, sharp spines that resemble hair. The fruit’s yellow flesh is juicy and filled with numerous tough, eatable brown-black seeds. The seeds can be swallowed whole or thrown away entirely because they are too hard to chew thoroughly. Green cactus pears have a sweet flavor with hints of pear and watermelon when they are fully mature, and they are juicy and aromatic.

Prickly pears — do they ripen after picking?

After being picked, prickly pears don’t typically ripen very much. It is therefore advisable to wait and only harvest them when they are obviously ripe. Prickly pears that are fully mature will no longer have prickles, making it quite simple to identify them.

How are prickly pear fruits picked and prepared?

There are a few different schools of thought regarding how to harvest prickly pear fruit. The majority of foragers just twist the fruits off with a pair of tongs or something comparable. Fruit that is ripe should easily twist off.

As an alternative, it has been asserted that using a little butane burner with a wand is the most effective approach. To remove the thorns and glochlids on the pear, use the tool. Harvesting prickly pear fruit with a burner reduces risk because the fruit is easier to handle because it is free of spikes.

Always leave some fruits out for birds and wildlife. Try not to overly pile the fruit in a basket or bag so that the bottom fruit doesn’t get damaged.

How are prickly pear pads harvested?

The edible fruit and savory pads that are produced by the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia, can be used in a number of cuisines. This article will describe how to harvest the prickly pear fruit if you wish to take part in the entire procedure. We have a separate website on the subject if you’re interested in learning how to harvest the pads and utilize them in recipes. Recipes for Nopales, or prickly pears.

Prickly Pear Syrup can be purchased on DesertUSA if you’re interested in the recipes but don’t want to pick and juice your own fruit.

Prickly pears can be used in syrup, jam, honey, sauces, salad dressings, tea, margaritas, martinis, and other delectable recipes. They can also be juiced.

Pear Spike Fruit (Called “tuna in Spanish) Typically, the prickly pear fruit ripens from late summer to early October. The fruit’s hue can differ. The fruit is ripe and ready to be harvested when it is ruby red in color. Cactus pears may not be entirely ripe if they are yellow or orange, and they will taste more sour. Prickly pears have a flavor that has been compared to a cross between watermelon and raspberry.

Fruit of the Prickly Pear is harvested You will need tongs, a knife, and gloves to harvest the fruit. Pull the fruit from the cactus pad using the tongs. Use the knife to separate the fruit from the pad if it is difficult to remove. The prickly pear fruit should be kept in a bucket or basin. Make sure to leave some fruit on the cactus so that it can continue to grow and provide food for wildlife.

removing the glochids and spines from cactus pears The tiny, nearly undetectable glochid spines on prickly pears can be removed in a number of methods. Using a knife or vegetable peeler, you can chop them off. If you utilize this technique, be sure to use gloves. Another choice, and the one I choose, is to hold the fruit over an open flame with tongs or a fork in order to burn the seeds off of it. Once the cactus pear’s spines and glochids have been removed, you can chop or peel them and consume them raw. Boiling, juicing, or blending the fruit are further methods for removing the spines.

You can buy prickly pear fruit at farmer’s markets, specialty shops, and Mexican marketplaces if you don’t want to gather it yourself. You will already find the glochids and spines removed from the prickly pear fruit you purchase.

There are numerous food and beverage recipes that call for prickly pear juice and puree.

How is prickly pear juice made? Whichever technique you choose, the next step in making prickly pear juice is to cut off both ends of the fruit and peel it. After the fruit has been peeled, you must press the fruit through a strainer set over a basin to extract the juice. A juicer can also be used. You will need to use a linen napkin, clean pillowcase, or t-shirt material and place the material inside a strainer to filter out spines, pulp, and seeds if you use the boil technique, blender, or juicer to remove the spines. To ensure that the spines are properly removed during the straining process when using cheesecloth, you might need to use several layers. Get rid of the residual seeds, spines, and pulp as well as the fabric material.

Making Prickly Pear Puree: A Recipe Cut the ends off the prickly pears, divide the fruit in half, and remove the seeds after removing the glochids and spines. Utilizing a potato masher, purée the fruit.

Once the juice or puree of the prickly pear fruit has been extracted, it can be frozen for later use or kept in the refrigerator for up to three days. The juice may be frozen easily using ice cube trays. The Prickly Pear cubes can be kept frozen by placing them in a plastic freezer bag. Additionally, purée can be frozen.

Where can I buy puree, juice, or syrup made from prickly pears? Prickly pear syrup, nectar, and puree are all available for purchase to include into recipes.

What recipes can I use prickly pear juice for? Two of the most well-liked recipes that call for prickly pear juice are prickly pear syrup and prickly pear jam. Pancakes can be topped with prickly pears syrup, which is also a key component in other prickly pears recipes. Prickly Pear Margaritas, Prickly Pear Lemonade, Prickly Pear Salad Dressing, and various drinks and sauces can be made using the syrup.

Another widely used recipe is for prickly pear jam. The sweet jam is distinctive and a wonderful present for family and friends. If you choose not to make it yourself, you may purchase Prickly Pear Jelly on Amazon from DesertUSA. You may also buy prickly pear honey (from DesertUSA on Amazon).

How is cactus fruit preserved?

Up to 5 days, keep ripe fruits in the refrigerator unwashed. The exterior of ripe prickly pears is crimson. Fruits should ripen at room temperature.

Utilizing rubber gloves, remove fruit’s skin and scoop it out for pureeing or slicing. Fruit with peels can be frozen. To enhance flavor, sprinkling with lemon or lime juice. Use as a garnish on meat meals or in fruit salads. Watermelon-like sweetness, juicy texture, and pear-like flavor.

Can you eat the raw pads of a prickly pear cactus?

The lower 48 states of the United States are home to the eastern prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa). In addition to being a lovely plant, it is edible, offers sustenance and safety to wildlife, and can be utilized in natural landscaping.

This cactus is simple to locate, especially in Indiana. Like other spiny succulents, the prickly pear has flat, fleshy pads (called cladodes) covered in spiky spines. Showy yellow blossoms are produced by the prickly pear.

How to eat a prickly pear

A red, egg-shaped fruit starts to form after flowering. After removing the skin, the fruits can be eaten raw and are edible. The fruit is frequently converted into jams, candies, and other sweets, and some people even eat the plant’s fleshy pads as a snack.

For thousands of years, the prickly pear cactus has been an essential part of Mexican and Central American cuisine. Prickly pears are becoming more popular as food in various areas of the United States.

The nopal, or cactus pad, which is frequently used as a vegetable, and the pear, or fruit, are the only two edible portions of the prickly pear plant.

What do prickly pears taste like?

Cactus pears have a sweet, rather bland flavor that is comparable to melon. The fruit is not technically a member of the pear family, despite its name. It was merely given that name because the prickly fruit looks and acts like a pear.

Where can I find prickly pears?

In Indiana, such as the Kankakee Sands and the Lake Michigan shore dunes, the prickly pear cactus can be found in open sand and arid places.

Another fantastic location to see Indiana’s sole cactus is the lovely Ober Savanna in Starke County.

Prickly pear in your yard

The fact that this native cactus is challenging to manage is unknown to many who like planting it in their backyards. A single plant can develop into a tangled, dense colony very fast.

The best approach to stop the prickly pear from spreading is to plant it in a pot. Purdue Pest & Plant Diagnostics Lab has a few options to get rid of prickly pear from your property if it is already out of control on the cactus.

When handling this lovely native cactus, be sure to use thick gloves. Their long, thorny spines, which can reach a length of several inches, are the least of your concerns. Glochids are painful and challenging to remove because of their hair-like appearance and decreased visibility.