Prickly Pear
  • Pear shaped fruit, 6-8cm in length.
  • Small spines scattered over the surface of the fruit.
  • Skin is yellow/orange/crimson.
  • Flesh is delicately sweet and may be white, yellow or crimson depending on variety.
  • Small hard edible seeds.

Indian Figs or prickly pears are distinguished by their spiny, leafless pads or flattened joints, oblong, egg shaped or spoon-shaped. These can be small or very large, as much as 60cm in length.

The flowers of these cacti, as with most others, are beautiful. Those of opuntia ficus-indica are yellow and can be 10cm in diameter.

The best way to prepare this fruit is to wash it, making sure that the spines are removed in the process. A stiff brush will do the trick. Cut a slice from top to tail, slit downwards, peel off the skin and slice. The raw fruit is succulent, with a sweet aroma. One of the best ways to serve it is simply sliced and accompanied with fresh lime or lemon. The fruit can be used as a compote. Made into a puree and sieved, the fruit can be served with ice-cream or used in desserts. Cook with a little orange juice, ginger and serve over ice cream.

Hot arid conditions.

The prickly pear, sometimes known as the Indian Fig, is as its name suggests a member of the cactus family.

It is believed to have been brought back to Europe by Christopher Columbus from South America. It is now widespread in the Mediterranean and other temperate regions. It is often used as a dense hedge against wandering animals.

Botanical Name: Opuntia inermisOpuntia stricta (Cactus)

Alternative Names: Indian Fig

Health Benefits

A good source of vitamin C and dietary fibre.

100g of Prickly Pear yields the following:

  • Calories – 41
  • Total Carbs – 3% of DV
  • Protein – 0.73g
  • Dietary Fibre – 14% of DV
  • Vitamin A – 1% of DV
  • Vitamin C –23% of DV
  • Calcium – 6% of DV
  • Iron – 2% of DV

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Selecting tips

Select plump fruit, free from blemishes. Yellow, orange, crimson colouring when ripe.

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