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Green Cactus Pears
Inventory, 25 lbs : 0.66
This item was last sold on : 11/20/21
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Green Cactus pears are small to medium in size, averaging 5-10 centimeters in length, and are oblong in shape similar to an avocado. The fruits form from yellow, pink, red, or purple flowers that grow on nopales or green cactus pads, and the thick skin of the fruit is light green and covered in rough bumps and spines known as glochids. These sharp spines are tiny, hair-like, and difficult to see and are found in the areoles of the skin. Inside the fruit, the yellow flesh is moist with many hard, edible brown-black seeds. The seeds are too tough to chew fully and can be swallowed whole or discarded completely. When ripe, Green Cactus pears are juicy and aromatic offering a sweet flavor with nuances of pear and watermelon.
Green Cactus pears are available in the early fall through spring.
Green Cactus pears, botanically classified as a part of the genus Opuntia, are the annual edible fruits that grow on the edges of the flat pads of the cactus and are members of the Cactaceae or cactus family. Also known as Cactus apple, Prickly pear, Barbary, Tuna fruit, and Indian Fig, there are many different varieties of cactus pears that can range in color from yellow, red, orange, to green. Despite its name, Green Cactus pears are not members of the pear family and were given this name in reference to their similarity in shape. Green Cactus pears grow wild all over Mexico and Central America and are commonly cultivated in home gardens to large plantations. They are favored for their sweet flesh and can be incorporated into a wide variety of culinary applications both raw and cooked.
Green Cactus pears are high in both magnesium and vitamin C and are also a good source of fiber.
Care needs to be taken when handling Green Cactus pears. Even if purchased from a grocery store, Green Cactus pears may still have some tiny, hair-like spines attached to the surface that can cause discomfort and irritation. The fruits should be held with tongs or rubber gloves to prevent penetration of the prickly fibers into fingers. They should also be rinsed and scrubbed in cool water or burned over a fire to remove the spines. The flesh of the pear can be sliced and used fresh in fruit and green salads or as a topping for yogurt and cereal. The pears can also be pressed through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds to make a puree. Once pureed, the juice can be used as a base for sorbets, smoothies, cocktails, salad dressings, marinades, and sauces. Green Cactus pears can also be slow cooked to make preserves, jams, and jellies to serve atop muffins, pancakes, and tarts. Green Cactus pears compliment scrambled eggs, avocado, bell pepper, tomato, lemon, lime, orange, mint, chicken, beef, pork, coconut water, brown sugar, and whipped cream. They will keep up to two weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
Green Cactus pears have been used in Mexico for thousands of years as a culinary treat and to help promote healing. Many locals believe that pears can help reduce inflammation, bloating, and joint and muscle pain. In addition to medicinal uses, in Oaxaca, Green Cactus pears are pureed and served on top of horchata which is a rice-almond drink.
Native to Mexico and the Americas, both the pears and pads of the prickly pear cactus have long been used since ancient times and eventually made their way to Europe via explorers and expeditions. Spreading throughout the Mediterranean, the fruit became extremely popular in Sicily where it thrived in the dry terrain and warm climate. Commercial farming of the cactus pear in the United States began in the early 1900’s by a Sicilian immigrant in California by the name of Marco Rancadore. Today Green Cactus pears can be found at local farmers markets and specialty grocers in the Southwestern United States, Mexico, Northern Africa, Middle East, the Mediterranean, Australia, Southern Asia, and select regions of the South Pacific.
Recipes that include Green Cactus Pears. One is easiest, three is harder.
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