Saturday, June 14, 2008

Prickly Pear

So I knew that there are some edible cactuses, one of which can provide quite an interesting experience, but I was unaware that there were varieties of cacti that bore fruit.

When I saw the prickly pear, labeled cactus pear, I thought it was just some exotic fruit that, in the manner of some of my recent strange snacks, simply bore resemblance to the plant it was named after. Imagine my shock when I discovered that the prickly pear actually comes from a rather large cactus from the genus Opuntia. This cactus, the Indian Fig Opuntia, is actually quite common across the West and Southwestern regions of the US and much of Mexico.

prickly pear

I chose to eat my prickly pear but it can also be used to make dyes, intoxicants, and for medicinal purposes. Immediately upon slicing the fruit open the usage as a dye becomes evident as the innards are suffuse with a rich maroon liquid much like that fond in beets. The flesh is mildly sweet and has the texture of a grainier canned beet but the flavor more closely resembles a rich watermelon with notes of raspberry. My variety was not seedless so eating it involved taking a spoonful, pushing the flesh through the gaps of my teeth, and spitting out the hordes of ball bearings contained within each bite. Despite the tedious manner of consumption, I quite enjoyed the flavor. Not the cheapest of fruits but more affordable than the typical exotic oddity. Hopefully at least one of these hundred seeds will sprout and I'll get to repeat the experience in about ten years.

prickly pear cut

No comments: