The prickly pear, or opuntia ficus-indiça in Latin, is a exotic fruit also called Dragon fruit. It is the fruit of the prickly pear, the family of cactus. Native to Mexico, this fleshy fruit is a very cultivated berry and used in Mexican cuisine. The prickly pear also grows in the warm countries around the Mediterranean, such as Sicily or Sardinia, where it is called "" Indian fig "". It is also cultivated in the Maghreb where it is called "" figs of Christians "". The prickly pear is a fairly heavy fruit, it weighs between 50 and 400g depending on the variety and contains many edible seeds.
Varieties of prickly pears
There are many species of prickly pear depending on the country where they are grown. The species are differentiated by the size, color and shape of their fruit. The most irrigated soils give larger fruits. The colors of the fruits vary between yellow, orange, pink, mauve and green mainly.
Cultivation and maintenance of the prickly pear
The prickly pear is cultivated in hot countries with well-drained filtering soils. The prickly pear is a fruit tree grown only for its fruit. The planting of the prickly pear is done by sowing or by cutting. The cutting is called nopalitos (small nopals) or cladodes, these are branches in the shape of rackets on which the fruits grow. The prickly pear needs to be pruned, in spring or at the end of the summer, to prevent the cladodes from touching, but also to remove the cladodes which will not produce fruits, like those which are damaged for example .
Harvest of the prickly pear
The prickly pear is very difficult to pick because of the thorns that are present on the cladodes. The fruit is even more difficult to consume, because its skin is strewn with invisible thorns. The prickly pear sellers generally offer to peel the fruit during the sale with the help of a knife and gloves. Once peeled, the prickly pear and a very sweet fruit.