Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Ouch ! fruit

The shadow cast by a prickly pear plant across a rendered wall is an image I would like to see used in our Mediterranean style garden. The cutting we rooted a couple of years ago morphed into a rabbit shape quite quickly but now is growing well and evolving into we know what not, anticipation is half the fun in gardening. 

Also known as the Barbary or Indian pear, this cactus seems to thrive in the poor Mediterranean garden soil. By mid summer a crop of succulent bright red or golden yellow fruits appear around the head of the parent plant, they are fiercely protected by needle like spines and finer spines known as ‘glochids’. Picking the fruit is a tricky business. If you do pick your own fruit wear gloves and carefully remove the spines and ‘glochids’ with a sharp knife. Otherwise they can be purchased, spinelessly (no criticism intended), from the green grocer.

 The flesh of the prickly pear tastes similar to melon and is quite refreshing. Cut the prickly pear in half scoop out the flesh then remove and discard the seeds. Squeeze a little lime juice or lemon juice over the fruit to enhance the taste. They are rich in vitamins B1 and B6, and also high in soluble fibre which assists in stabilising your blood sugars. The peeled stems and flattened leaves are also edible after cooking. Simply brush with oil and grill with other suitable vegetables.

 .......don't pick the prickly pear by the paw, when you pick a pear, try to use the claw, - Baloo

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the shape of these plants is typically Mediterranean and I love your image of the shadow on the wall. I remember eating the fruits when I was a child in North Africa and I thought they were a bit sickly. The flowers are beautiful though. I didn't know you could eat the leaves. I'm rooting some cuttings and they seem to have taken with a whole new leaf visible on one of them.