Westlake Weekly Update 5.19.21
Featured Item: Prickly Pear
A little unknown prickly fruit native to Mexico is in season now. The prickly pear or cactus fruit is the actual fruit of the cactus pads or nopales. It’s crazy to think someone saw the prickly cactus and thought, “hmmm, that looks good enough to eat!” But luckily, they did because nopales is a delicious vegetarian option and the prickly pear is too sweet to resist!
They range in color from green to vivid red, but there are plenty of orange-hued varieties grown. The latter red type tends to be the sweetest. The flavor is compared to everything from bubble gum to watermelon!
The juice from a ripe sweet cactus pear works wonders in jams, vinaigrettes, and hello….cocktails! Can you say, “prickly pear margarita?”
These exotic fruits are available from June to November and found in most Mexican markets. Although, with people getting more experienced and daring in the kitchen, it is becoming more widely available. And why not? Prickly pears are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Thus, they are a healthful addition to a balanced diet and may help decrease blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and lower cholesterol.
If you’re new to using prickly pear, I have two words for you….be careful! The fruit is covered with tiny spots. The spots are not thorns, but they are covered in glochids that are miniscule hair-like splinters that can stick into your skin and are very painful and very hard to see. Therefore, when picking a prickly pear cactus fruit, you must protect your hands. The store-bought fruits are usually fairly cleaned up, but we recommend still handling them with care. The last thing you need is to get stuck with a hair-like splinter and can’t even see it to remove it!
Once home, rinse it under water and scrub with a potato brush to remove any left overs spikes. Now it’s ready to cut and eat!
The easiest way to cut the cactus pear is to remove both ends.
Slice down the skin’s center a few times.
Next, peel away the skin, handling with care!
It is ready to eat! You can enjoy it fresh but beware of the seeds. You can consume them but not chew them down. Don’t worry; they won’t hurt you if you swallow them. Or if you’re daring, spit them out as you eat them!
I like to run the fruit through a sieve to remove the seeds. Then, with leftover juice or pulp, you can use it for several things!
One fantastic recipe I found was adding the juice to a cream cheese frosting for a lime cupcake or making a homemade sorbet…perfect for a hot day! Did I mention the juice makes a fantastic margarita?
Any way you slice it, be careful, but enjoy this prickly fruit this summer!