How to eat prickly pears

Prickly pear

Prickly pear

How do I eat a prickly pear, John?

Also known as cactus fruit or cactus pear, this fruit is often readily available to foragers in the urban landscape - perhaps in your neighbour's backyard, local community garden or scattered throughout bushland. But they're not called prickly for nothing, and peeling a prickly pear isn't quite as straightforward as other fruits.

Gloves are essential to avoid the tiny spines on the fruit's skin attaching to you. If you buy them from your local supermarket or farmers' market, most of the spines might have been rubbed away already, which makes them a little easier to handle. The best way to remove the prickles is by rubbing them off the skin with a vegetable brush or toothbrush. To peel the fruit, use a fork and a sharp knife to slice off both ends of the fruit, make a slit lengthways through the tough skin to the flesh, and use two forks to pull the skin away.

Eating the fruit raw is only worthwhile when it's perfectly ripe - it has a flavour similar to passionfruit and lots of seeds. Cooking the fruit is a safer bet, perhaps as a jam, or in a cordial or sorbet. It'll be a most spectacular magenta, and all the effort will be worthwhile.


Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Sydney Fish Market: now delivering
17.12.2017
The best food books of 2017
15.12.2017
France leads on food sustainability, Australia lags
08.12.2017
Artisanal Korean ingredients at Table 181
30.10.2017
Adelaide's Ferment the Festival
25.10.2017
The Producers: Fawk Foods
26.09.2017
The Gourmet Traveller podcast

Each fortnight we round up the most interesting characters from the food world for your listening pleasure. We chat to chefs, cooks, authors, bar tenders and baristas - anyone who has something new and interesting to say about the way we like to eat and drink.

Listen
Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

Hot 100 2015 - Food

The world is getting hotter and we’re not talking about glob...

Women in Hospitality

A new organisation is empowering women working in the hospit...

The producers: Two Rivers Green Tea

A leading local tea exporter now offers his leaves to the do...

The producers: Colony honey

A selection of regional monofloral honeys sourced direct fro...

Liquid gold

We find ourselves inexorably drawn to salt caramel in a jar....

The producers: Atssu Divers

Hand-dived abalone, turban shell and sea urchin.

Making a scene

Entertainer Julia Zemiro notes there’s little difference bet...

Deutscher’s Turkey Farm

When it comes to talking turkey, the best birds have lived t...

Sandor Ellix Katz Q&A

Food fermentation 'revivalist' and guru Sandor Ellix Katz di...

The producers: Alexandrina Jersey milk

Meet the producers of the creme de la creme of Australian fu...

Gamze smokehouse

Bringing local flavour to artisan-made bacon.

Gourmet Traveller Gourmet Fast app

Now, here's a mighty handful: GT's Gourmet Fast recipes are ...

Food emoji we wish existed

What? More than 200 new pictograms in the latest Emoji set, ...

What is jumbuck?

The jumbuck has leapt straight from the pages of Banjo Pater...

Inside Out almond milk

Thicker, creamier milk, with a more pronounced almond flavou...