I have been wanting to do something with prickly pears. Unfortunately, they aren’t the cheapest thing in the stores. I knew of a cacti growing them on the way to Matt’s work. So I dropped him off today and picked myself some prickly pears.
Prickly pears are the fruit of the cacti. We are never devoid of cacti here in Texas.
When picking prickly pear:
- Wear gloves
- Bring something to put them in (I used a paper bag)
- Use a pair of tongs or layered newspaper to pluck them
- Pluck from the top (leaving the bottom ones for animals to eat)
- Try not to pluck more than 20%, so as to keep the pears alive and kicking on the rest of the cacti.
- Use your tongs to grab the pears and twist them off. Go for ones that don’t have markings, cuts or the like.
- Be very careful. In addition to those spikes on the cacti, prickly pear have what are called glochids which are incredibly tiny, hard to see little pokers. I know, I’ve had to pull a few out of my hands with tweezers because the glochids will fall off the pears too, which is why I recommend gloves.
Pickly pear come in green and red, without getting too technical. There are many tips on when to harvest them. I recommend this website and this video for tips.
You can harvest them early, which I did and why the insides of mine are green. When you harvest them early they are more tart. When harvested at their peak they are sweeter.
Here is how I made some homemade prickly pear vinaigrette.
See the steps at the end.
Step 1 Using tongs, rinse them. Then use an old toothbrush, or brush of some kind, and brush all of the little spikes off. │ Step 2 Cut the ends off both sides, just until you see the seeds. │ Step 3 Slice or peel the sides off.│ Step 4 Throw your peeled and cut prickly pears in a blender and blend away. Then put some cheesecloth over a bowl, securing it with a rubberband. Pour your blend over it and then squeeze all of the juice out with your hands, leaving the hard seeds in the cheesecloth.
Now to make it a dressing, use and mix:
- The juice of 9 pickly pears (that’s what I used) or 1/2 cup of juice
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
If you want a sweeter dressing, then add some sugar or maple syrup. I wanted it tart. Then pour the dressing over your beautifully made salad.
Cheers to hand picked eating!