Handle with Care: Prickly but Healthy Cactus Fruits

When you see the big cactus they are growing on, you might not believe these dark orange coloured fig shaped bulbs are edible. But they really are. These Cactus Fruits are called ‘Dikenli incir’ in Turkish, which means Prickly Fig. In English they are also referred to as: Prickly Pear or Barbary Fig.

The cactus is named Opuntia Ficus-Indica and its characteristics are the broad, flat leaves and sharp spines. The flowers turn into edible fruit.

How to pick these Cactus Fruits?

The best time to pick these Prickly Figs is when their colour is orange, reddish. It’s recommended to take them of the thorny leaves is wearing (kitchen) gloves and using something like a tong. Then take a bowl with water and hit the fruits a few times for (most of) the spines to go off and fall into the water.

How to peal these Cactus Fruits?

To take off the hard, thorny skin, you best use again (kitchen) gloves and a sharp knife. You can also hold them with a towel or napkin when you peel.

How to eat these Cactus Fruits?

The Prickly Fig contains seeds that can be eaten or taken out. The peeled fruit can be used in salads, desserts, meals and also as decoration. An easy and tasty way is to cut the fruit into slices and put ice cubes on them, as the Prickly Fig is best eaten cold. Another possibility is to make juice.

Which health benefits does this Cactus Fruits have?

A better question would probably be: Which health benefits doesn’t this Cactus Fruit have? Besides having a soft, sweet taste, the fruit from the Opuntia Ficus-Indica is known to contain high levels of vitamin C, B-family vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, and dietary fiber. It is said to have a positive effect on hearth health, digestion and weight control and is said to be anti-inflammatory and containing a lot of antioxidants.

So, although it might be some work to get them ready for your plate, it’s definitely worth it!

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