The prickly pear is a cactus fruit that is actually a berry. The pulp of the prickly pear is sweet and moist with an aroma and flavor similar to a combination of the tastiest tropical and subtropical fruits, strawberry, watermelon, honeydew melon, fig, and banana.
The salmon or pink to magenta colored flesh of the prickly pear can be sliced or cubed and eaten raw once the fruit's hard black seeds are removed. The flesh can be puréed and added to yogurts, sorbets, or ice cream or used as a flavoring for drinks. InMexico, the prickly pear is known a "cactus candy."
The prickly pear fruit is usually 2 to 4 inches long and egg or barrel shaped, about the size of a kiwi fruit or small guava. The skin is thick and coarse and can vary in color from green to yellow to orange or pink or red, or a bit of all these. The color of the fruit and flesh is preceded by blossoms of the same color.
The prickly pear's skin is essentially the fruit's rind and is covered with stiff spines that must be carefully removed. Nopales are the leaves of the cactus pear which also can be eaten. They too are covered with prickly spines or hairs.
The prickly pear is also called tuna pear or tuna fig, cactus pear, Indian fig or Indian pear. InBritainthe prickly pear is called theBarbaryfig or pear. InIsrael, the prickly pear is calledSharon's fruit. InSpainprickly pears are known as tunas and inItalythe prickly pear is called fichi d'india.