We like to mix it up within our big food adventure, and occasionally we try some exotic to us, fruits and vegetables. Living where we do, certainly no cactus plants grow outside in this part of the world! Since we have never seen cactus pears in the wild, we definitely said, "what's that?" when saw them in a food store last weekend. We immediately decided to give the strange looking fruits a try, not even knowing anything about their taste. That's the gosh darn freaky fun of it!
I needed to find out about these little critters, so I watched a few YouTube videos about cactus pears, and also watched a number of people harvesting the fruit in the desert themselves. Tricky business. Seems we are very lucky not to experience the thorns and nasty stickers that come from gathering these cactus pears in the wild! Be sure to hold them with paper towels while you cut them if yours still have any remnants of cactus thorns on them! Overall there was some disagreement about how to open the fruit. I decided to go with John Kohler of OK Raw's method. You can see John in the video at the bottom of this post creating a cactus cooler that he makes with coconut water.
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I sliced off each end, and then ran my knife just at the depth of the skin lengthwise. The juice can stain, so be careful not to be wearing anything white or fancy. If your cactus pears still have thorns use gloves or some paper towels to do this maneuver to protect your hands. I then rolled the outer skin off the inside flesh.
Cactus pears grow off the tip edge of cactus plants. If you have seen cactus flowers then these would be in the same area of the plant. Most of the cactus pears I saw on videos had seeds in the center that you scooped out with a spoon.
Ours had the seeds throughout the inside flesh (see photo below), and the seeds were hard as rocks. I took a taste of the pears, they were sweet, but oh those seeds... I decided to add the two cactus pears to a juice recipe. This way the macine can remove the seed problem. People do like to juice cactus pear for it's healthy benefits because it contains magnesium, vitamin C, and helps in reducing inflammation in the body. They are also supposed to be good for diabetics. You can read more about the nutritional benefits here and here.
I though I would add them to a celery-jicama based juice, since that is what I had on hand. That is the beauty of juicing, so many combo's are oh so good! Hubby was not going to be home till much later. I made a bigger batch of juice than I usually do, because I knew I would be drinking most of this myself right away. Best to drink your juice as fresh as possible.
Cactus Pear, Celery, Jicama Juice
2 cactus pears peeled / inside flesh only
8 stalks of celery
1/3 jicama peeled
1 peeled English cucumber
1/2 inch of peeled ginger
2 granny smith apples
1 tsp of Cinnamon
Add all of the above ingrediants to the juice machine, and mix with spoon in pitcher. Pour into glass and stir with a crunchy celery swizzle stick. Enjoy! This batch made a quart of juice. I drank the pint container before I poured the rest into the quart, so maybe it was a bit more than a quart of juice. It looked so good I had to drink it! Yum!
If you are not drinking your fresh made juice till later, it is best to fill your mason jar to the very top to remove the air, and replace lid tightly, and refrigerate. The cactus pears made for a beautiful color of juice! Be brave and try new things!
Enjoy John in the video below showing how to use cactus pears, and as always giving you the low down on juicing machines!