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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / South/Central American Cooking / May Topic-Prickly Pears
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    May Topic-Prickly Pears

    Sat Apr 28, 2012 12:25 pm Groupie

    The prickly pear cactus is a staple of the Mexican and Central American diet, they have been for thousands of years. Prickly pear cactus has two edible parts, the pad of the cactus (nopal) and the "pear" (tuna).
    The nopal is treated like a vegetable whereas the tuna is treated like a fruit.
    Both have hard spines, and those wretched "invisible" ones called glochids. If you get the glochids in your skin put a layer of white school glue (like Elmer's) over the area and allow to dry. When you peel the dried glue away it will pull out the glochids.

    Most of the prickly pears you find in the grocery store are spine free, however I always use a plastic bag to pick them up just in case.

    If you are lucky enough to harvest your own, wear heavy gloves!
    Find pads that are bright green and firm. Small, young pads harvested in early spring are thought to be the most succulent, and have the fewest spines. The thicker a pad, the older it is. Older pads tend to be stringy and their sap will be thicker, which some people find unpleasant. Snap the pads off the plant or cut at the stem. Cutting at the stem reduces stress on the pad, and allows the cactus to recover quickly.

    Remove the spines from the pad by using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Don't take off the gloves until the pads are completely rinsed and the peeled remnants are cleared. The spines and glochids can also be removed from the prickly pear pads by burning them off with a small torch or by placing the pad on a gas burner and turning it with tongs.

    The pears with the reddish-orange or purple skin and deep purple interiors are considered to be the sweetest, but the white-skinned varieties are more popular in Mexico.

    For the pears remove the spines by placing the pears in a plastic colander five or six at a time under cold water. Swirl the pears around for about three or four minuets not brusing them. Doing this washes all the fine blond hairs (glochids) away.

    Last edited by Dib's on Wed May 30, 2012 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total
    Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:36 pm Groupie
    Cactus Paddle Salad/Relish or Ensalada de Nopalitos and Cactus Paddle Salad (Nopales Salad) are both great salads to try if you have never had cactus paddles.
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