Botanical Name: Opuntia ficus indica
Common Names: Indian fig opuntia, barbary fig, cactus pear, spineless cactus, prickly pear
What parts of nopal are used?
The fruits and pods are edible. Once the skin has been peeled off and the fruit has been chilled for a couple of hours it tastes like watermelon. The fruit of prickly pears are often rendered into jellies and jams, and are most frequently used in a number of different alcoholic beverages in Spanish-speaking Countries. The pads are cooked and eaten as a vegetable. The skin of the young cactus can be eaten as well (fried or boiled, often accompanied with eggs for breakfast) and taste like string beans.
How do you identify nopal and where is it grown?
Prickly pear is a cactus which originated in South America and migrated north to Mexico and the southern United States. Because it is a succulent, it is well adapted to dry conditions. It grows 3-5m in height with thick, succulent stems covered in a wax that reflects both water and sun. It is studded with needles. After one to two years of maturity, flowers bloom sometime between April and June. They range in color from white to peachy yellows, oranges and reds.
Nopal is generally eaten raw cooked or prepared in beverages, blending drinks, confections, jams and other traditional culinary dishes. The Nopal fruit, often referred to as Prickly Pear, is also prepared in various culinary dishes. Nopal is also prepared in capsules and teas.
Prickly Pear is generally prepared in 500-1000mg capsules.
The Nopal is prepared as a tea by adding two tablespoons (cut or chopped) with eight ounces of water. Simmer for ten minutes covered.
Usually Prepared With:
Nopal is generally combined with Agave, Cilantro, Beans, Corn, Lime, Orange, Peppers and other fruits.