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Prickly Pear FAQs

Once you add prickly pears to your fruit routine, you’ll be adding them to just about everything! Enjoy raw prickly pear as a snack, in salads, or stir it into yogurt and granola. Concoct creative compotes, sauces, sorbets and jellies with fresh prickly pear fruit and juice. Use them with other fruits and herbs to impart color and flavor to proteins, sauces and condiments.

There are varieties of prickly pear fruit that can have green, yellow, orange, magenta or red peels. Inside, the juicy, refreshing fruit ranges in color from yellow, orange and maroon. The flesh of these fruits is so colorful that they’re also prized for making dye.

Prickly pears are the fruit of the opuntia genus of cacti. The fruits are somewhat lightbulb shaped, with a thick, leathery skin that’s similar in texture to the cactus from which it grows. Botanically known as Opuntia, these prickly cactus berries are also called tuna and sabra in some parts of the world. 

Prickly pear fruit has a uniquely sweet and earthy flavor. It tastes of soft red berries with hints of watermelon and cucumber. The texture of their flesh is similar to a cross between melon and dragon fruit, and is often a deep maroon or magenta color. At their peak ripeness, prickly pears have a pleasant berry fragrance that makes for an exceptional fruit experience!

Prickly pears grow from a variety of cactus species throughout North and South America. Today they’re cultivated throughout regions of the Mediterranean, Africa and Australia. Peak season for prickly pears is in the late fall from September through December. 

There are varieties of prickly pear fruit that can have green, yellow, orange, magenta or red peels. Inside, the juicy, refreshing fruit ranges in color from yellow, orange and maroon. The flesh of these fruits is so colorful that they’re also prized for making dye.

Wondering how to know when a prickly pear is perfectly ripe? First, make sure all of the sharp needles have been removed from the nodes that cover the fruit. Then, pick it up in your hand. The fruit should feel heavy for its size and yield slightly with gentle pressure from your thumb. Depending on the variety, the fruit may be variations of green, yellow, orange and red. The color should be even throughout the peel.

To prepare a prickly pear for eating, first remove the inedible peel with its tiny, sharp barbs. If the spikes haven’t already been removed, wear kitchen gloves to protect your hands when handling this fruit. Begin by slicing off the top and bottom ¼ inch of the fruit. Then, score the rind lengthwise and use your fingers to easily peel it away from the succulent fruit at the center. From here, it can be eaten out of hand, sliced, juiced or cooked.

Prickly pears contain small, hard, black seeds interspersed throughout the fruit. While edible, some prickly pear fans will spit them out or separate the fruit pulp from the seeds.

Prickly pears grow from a variety of cactus species throughout North and South America. Today they’re cultivated throughout regions of the Mediterranean, Africa and Australia.

Colorful fruits and vegetables have a reputation for being extra nutritious. The rainbow of prickly pear varieties are known to be high in antioxidants, carotenoids and fiber. Learn more details about prickly pear nutrition from the USDA.

Prickly Pear (100g, about ⅔ cup)

  • Calories: 172
  • Protein: 1g
  • Carbohydrate: 10g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Calcium: 56g
  • Magnesium: 85mg
  • Potassium: 220mg
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Vitamin C: 14mg

Peak season for prickly pears is in the late fall from September through December.

Once you add prickly pears to your fruit routine, you’ll be adding them to just about everything! Enjoy raw prickly pear as a snack, in salads, or stir it into yogurt and granola. Concoct creative compotes, sauces, sorbets and jellies with fresh prickly pear fruit and juice. Use them with other fruits and herbs to impart color and flavor to proteins, sauces and condiments.

Prickly pear fruit has a uniquely sweet and earthy flavor. It tastes of soft red berries with hints of watermelon and cucumber. The texture of their flesh is similar to a cross between melon and dragon fruit, and is often a deep maroon or magenta color. At their peak ripeness, prickly pears have a pleasant berry fragrance that makes for an exceptional fruit experience!

The prickly pear packs a fruity punch! Enjoy them raw, baked into desserts, candied or used in flavorful, fresh dishes. Prickly pear is particularly well suited for jams, candies, salads, frozen desserts, sauces and salsas. They have small, hard seeds throughout the flesh that can be separated by pushing the fruit through a mesh sieve. Any way you slice ‘em, there are countless ways to eat prickly pear!

Prickly pears bring beautiful color and sweet, special flavor to all kinds of beverages. Puree the fruit to separate the hard seeds, then add it to fresh juices, tea, water, or cocktails. Pair the To make delicious alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, use your prickly pears to make a basic syrup, then add it to your drinks.

To keep prickly pears freshest for longest, it’s best to store them in an airtight container in the fridge where they’ll last for up to five days. They can be left on the countertop for two or three days.

To freeze prickly pear, wait until they are fully ripened. Remove the rinds and lay the prickly pear fruit on a cookie sheet with space between each piece. Once frozen, store the fruit in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.

Good news! Dogs can safely eat prickly pear fruit in small quantities. Keep the rind away from pets as it’s inedible and may still contain tiny, sharp barbs. Over at FruitStand, we love sharing fruit with our wet-nosed friends, so we encourage you to clear the safety of any new fruits or veggies with your veterinarian before offering them your pooch.

Smock up before digging into prickly pears! Prickly pear is a very juicy and deeply colored fruit that can leave a dark mark on fabrics. Treat the spot as quickly as you can with a stain remover that’s appropriate for the fabric. Then, launder the item as soon as possible.

Prickly pear is a juicy and deeply colored fruit. If you drop prickly pear fruit on any kind of fabric, it could leave a dark mark. Treat the spot as quickly as you can with a stain remover that’s appropriate for the fabric. Then, launder the item as soon as you can.

Prickly pear and dragon fruit are quite the showy specialty fruits! Each known for their eye catching color and shapes, both are fruits of cactus species. Prickly pears and dragon fruits both have leathery, inedible rinds and edible seeds interspersed throughout the fruit flesh. 

Despite these similarities, eating prickly pear and dragon fruits are very different flavor experiences. Prickly pear has a sweeter flavor, deeply colored flesh and hard seeds. Dragon fruit seeds are much softer and smaller.

Has your once sweet-smelling prickly pear gone from pleasant to pungent? It’s easy to get bad smells from prickly pear out of your house with a few simple steps. First, discard any spoiled prickly pear fruit and get it outside! Then, clean the area where it was stored with hot, soapy water or home cleaning spray. Let it dry thoroughly.

To prevent bad smells from fruit in your kitchen and home, keep an old-fashioned box of baking soda in your fridge and anywhere you store food every two to three months to prevent unpleasant aromas before they start. Immediately refrigerate cut prickly pear in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When not refrigerated, only store whole, fresh fruit in a cool, clean and well-ventilated area. See our section on how to store prickly pear for help on keeping them fresher for longer!

If you’ve ever wondered where to buy prickly pear, we’ve got great news for you! FruitStand is proud to partner with small, specialty farmers to bring you exceptional quality prickly pear. To be the first to know when FruitStand is shipping prickly pear harvests, join our email newsletter!

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