Have you heard of the cactus pear? This unique food, also known as the prickly pear or barbary fig, is a pink, spiky fruit that grows on cacti. At first glance, it looks inedible, but if you know how to peel and cut the unique plant, what you'll find inside is a sweet and fruity treat like no other. It can be difficult to describe these plants to someone who hasn't sampled them, because they have a flavor that doesn't exist anywhere else. Some describe them as in the same family of watermelon, though the consistency and texture is much closer to a pear. In any event, when properly prepared, they make a great topping for a green salad or a fantastic addition to a fruit salad, or you can simply slice them and snack on them on as you please. You can even blend them into a smoothie!
The cactus pear also contains some nutrients that promote healthy senior living. According to the Mayo Clinic, researchers and doctors have said that the fruit may be able to decrease blood sugar levels for individuals who have Type 2 diabetes, and it's also been known to treat high cholesterol and obesity.
The next time you head to a farmer's market or a Latin grocery store, keep an eye out for these fruits. Here's a quick guide on how to prepare them, courtesy of Simply Recipes:
Using a sharp knife, slice the ends off the fruit. Next, make a long, shallow slice vertically down the body of the prickly pear. Place your fingers in the slice you just made and slowly peel back the rough outer skin. This can be discarded, because what you're left with is the edible part of the fruit. A word to the wise: The fruit has tiny, edible seeds inside. If you aren't a fan of their texture, use a grapefruit spoon or paring knife to remove them.