Tips and Tricks

What is the origin of the prickly pear?

What is the origin of the prickly pear?

The origins of the opuntia ficus indica, the botanical name of the prickly pears, are to dated around the fifteenth century, when they were imported from South Central America in Sicily.

Where is cactus pear from?

The cactus pear, also known as prickly pear (or by its Spanish name, tuna) is the fruit of the Opuntia cactus native to the southwestern US and Mexico. (The same succulent gives us cactus pads or nopales.)

What does the prickly pear cactus symbolize?

Viewed by some cultures as a symbol of life and hope, cactus is an amazingly strong plant that survives under the harshest of conditions.

What did Native Americans use prickly pear for?

Prickly pear is a large, spiny cactus that bears numerous deep red, juicy-sweet fruits. Early historic observations and archeological data clearly indicate Native Americans relied on prickly pear for food, medicine, and as a source of needles, containers, and water.

Why is cactus important to Mexico?

The prickly pear cactus is such a powerful symbol in Mexico that they put it smack in the middle of the national flag. It was considered sacred by the ancient Aztecs, and modern-day Mexicans eat it, drink it, and even use it in medicines and shampoos.

Is the cactus a symbol of Mexico?

Not only is the cactus an important cultural and historical symbol in Mexico, but it might also surprise you to learn that cactus is a staple in Mexican cuisine! You will find cactus everywhere from fine dining to street food, and certainly in every home kitchen in Mexico.

Did Native Americans eat figs?

Foods Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere Common names: prickly pear, barbary pear, cactus pear, Indian fig and tuna fig. The prickly pear cactus was and is a staple in the diets of many indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States and Mexico.

Is prickly pear native to Texas?

Texas Native Plants Database. Texas prickly pear is common in the drier areas of South and Central Texas and Mexico and sparingly in the Trans-Pecos possibly into New Mexico, to an elevation of 4600 feet.

What is prickly pear good for?

The magnesium, potassium, and calcium in prickly pears are key nutrients for healthy blood pressure, while vitamin C plays an important role in immune system health ( 6 , 7 ). Prickly pears also contain many beneficial plant compounds, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, and pigments, which act as antioxidants.

Where does the prickly pear cactus grow?

The prickly pear cactus can be found in desert regions of the Americas, ranging from Canada to the Southern regions of South America. 1 Even though it is native to the Americas, it has been known to be grown around the world. Just within the Sonoran Desert of Southwestern United States and Mexico, there are 18 species of prickly pear.

What is cactus used for in Mexico?

The wide, flat cactus pads (“nopales”) are used in many Mexican main dishes such as salads, eggs and as a filling for other dishes. The cactus fruit, sometimes called a “Prickly Pears” are very sweet and can be eaten raw, right off of the plant. Depending on the level of ripeness, they can range from slightly sweet to syrupy sweet.

How to prepare cactus fruit for cooking?

1 Preparing the Cactus Fruit. First, you will need to get the glochids off so that you can handle the fruit. 2 Cutting the Skin. Begin by slicing about one-quarter inch off of the ends of the fruit. 3 Removing the Skin. Use your fingers to pull the skin back off of the fruit. 4 Serving the Prickly Pear

What does a cactus fruit look like?

The cactus flower, the fruit skin and the pulp inside vary in color depending on the species. They can be white, green, yellow, orange, red, purple, or brown. The cactus fruits, called prickly pears, cactus pears, cactus fruit, figs or tunas in Spanish, are oval-shaped berries with glochids covering a juicy pulp inside (Figure 1).