The prickly pear cactus is native to the Americas and considered an invasive plant in South Africa. They are everywhere.
The fruit (prickly pears) grow like fingers on the cactus. They are full of fine needles so you need to knock them off the cactus with a branch or stick, and then roll them in the grass or on the ground to knock the needles off. Believe me, you do NOT want one of these needles on your tongue or in your hands.
After making REALLY sure all the needles are off, you
- cut the ends off
- stick a fork in the top and slice through the top layer of the peel with a sharp knife
- peel and chill
It took me about 10 minutes to prepare a whole bucket (which cost $1, though I paid more because it is a lot of work to harvest them)
Coming from the native land of the prickly pear cactus, the fruit makes great jelly or jam once it’s ripened to that nice ruby color. It’s too bad those invisible little thorns have to make it so hard to enjoy them! Many Mexican dishes feature “nopalitos” as a side or a taco ingredient. Nopalitos are the meat of the cactus leaf. I find them to be slimy and therefore hard to eat, but people who love okra or pickles will love them.
Thank you for this – I would love to try the jam!