The prickly pear has fine, extremely unpleasant thorns on its bowl. If you want to get to the delicious pulp without injuries, you only need a little skill and a few kitchen gloves. The ends of the fruit are cut flat, the peel carved from top to bottom and peeled off. The Exotin can already be cut decorative into slices or fine cubes. The effort is rewarded with a refreshingly sweet and sour aroma that is somewhat reminiscent of melon or pear. The juicy flesh contains up to 300 small seeds that can be eaten.
The exotic fruit refines fruit salad, yoghurt desserts and spicy dishes with game and poultry. A delicious starter are spherical prickly pears with serrano ham and goat cheese. For pure enjoyment, the fruit is simply cut open and spooned out like a kiwi. Chilled and refined with a dash of lemon or lime juice, prickly pears taste particularly good. The prickly pear is rich in vitamin C (23 mg per 100 g), B vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium. It contains pectin and the antioxidant amino acid taurine.
The prickly pear (Opuntia ficus indica) is native to Mexico. With Spanish seafarers, he came to the Mediterranean in the 16th century and is now cultivated in many countries. It is adapted to extreme sunlight, drought and nutrient-poor soils and can reach a height of four meters. The fruits are egg-shaped and slightly flattened with wart-like elevations. Depending on the variety, the color palette ranges from yellow to salmon to dark brown. After harvesting, the bowl is brushed to remove the fine barbed thorn hairs on the bowl. Remaining thorns can cause an uncomfortable injury to the hands.
Prickly pears are available all year round, the main supplier for our markets being Italy. Since the fruits do not ripen, soft and juicy specimens are the best choice. They should have no pressure points and an intact stem, otherwise they will spoil quickly. When stored cool, prickly pears can be kept for a few days.
A little note from the editors: Spines are protuberances of the epidermis and other superficial layers. Unlike thorns, they can be removed relatively easily. In contrast, thorns are transformed plant organs (for example, transformed shoots or leaves). They are therefore firmly attached to the plant. Even if the colloquial language is different: roses have spines and gooseberries have thorns! (Heiko Kreutz, aid)