How to Pick and Eat Cactus Pears | AΦRODITE's KITCHEN | A Cyprus Food Blog

Recipes you can make with cactus pears: Cactus Pear Fruit Salad1233402_10153155421135181_1516703003_n

Cactus Pears in Cyprus are in season in August. It is now the end of August and cactus pear season in the village is almost over. The pears have started to turn a yellow-pink colour.  The cactus plants grow on cliff-sides and can often be found on the sides of roads. They are a tricky fruit to pick and eat because of the invisible prickles they have on the outside. Read: a-pain-in-the-butt to peel. Even once you get beyond the prickly skin, the inside still has lots of dark little crunchy seeds. But you still eat them because they are tasty. They are a summer delicacy for fruit people and luckily enough you can buy them pre-peeled from a lot of supermarkets. Now, the question you have all been waiting for: want to know how people pick cactus-pears? Answer: very carefully. hardy-har. But really, here is a visual representation:



I am guessing that you may not have one of these contraptions lying around your house. I suppose if you wore very thick gloves, (I’m thinking like the type people wear when they handle bald eagles) you could avoid the spikes going into your hands. You can always spot someone who is guilty of handling a cactus pear with their bear hands. Usually they are pawing at their hands non-stop, or crying there eyes out (if you are under the age of 10 or someone with a low tolerance for me). Even cutting the fruit open once you have brought it home needs some attention to detail. The correct way to do it is to lie the fruit in a plate and slice off both ends. Then, use a knife to slice the fruit’s skin down the middle and pull apart the skin.


Hopefully this way you will get into the yummy-ness on the inside. Eat it raw, put it in a fruit salad, or make it into jam like the Italians. There are lots of possibilities, though I think in Cyprus, the fruit is typically enjoyed fresh once it has been chilled in the fridge. Cactus pear are one of the highlights of summer for me – so long as I avoid the spikes!


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  1. soak in lemon juice renders the hairs harmless.

  2. leaves are good to eat too.

  3. ruthie

    I ruined a pair of leather barbecue gloves on these things, so even gloves aren’t a sure thing.

    In Mexico, they eat the paddles, too, especially when they’re young and smallish. They’re called “nopales” or “nopalitos.” I’ve only had them cooked in a sort of breakfast thing with eggs and onions etc. Mild taste, but nice on occasion.

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