Bedding plants

Harvesting prickly pear cactus - this is how it works without sore fingers

Fig cacti are highlights in the garden. Especially because they have delicious fruit. However, harvesting them is not that easy. After all, they are prickly.

Prickly pears taste sweet and sour

Anyone who can pick figs from their own prickly pear belongs to a happy minority in Germany. Because not everyone dares to plant a prickly pear in the garden. Most believe that cacti only thrive in very hot areas. But that's not correct. Fig cacti also thrive in German gardens.

At the latest when your prickly pear is bearing fruit, you know that it is doing well. You have to pay attention to a few things to ensure that everything runs smoothly - i.e. without spikes - when harvesting the delicious fruit. Otherwise, harvesting can quickly become a painful affair.

When are prickly pears ripe?

Depending on the climatic conditions at the location of the prickly pear, you can harvest the fruit in late summer or autumn. Don't rely on the color of the shell. This does not provide a reliable indication of ripeness, because like mangoes prickly pears can be colored green, yellow or red. Instead, use your thumb and forefinger to test whether the pulp is soft enough. When there is slight pressure, the time has come to harvest the prickly pears. The final proof of the ripeness is the taste: the prickly pear must have a full, sweet and sour aroma. Therefore, first pick a single fruit and make the delicious taste test.

How do you pick the figs from the cactus?

Harvesting prickly pears is not an art, but it requires caution. After all, the bowl of a prickly pear is peppered with fine spikes that hold their barbs in the skin once you have pricked yourself. Fortunately, the spines can be easily rubbed off or brushed off. Hold the fruit in a prick-free area with the fingers of one hand and rub over the skin with newspaper or a small, soft brush. The majority of the spines fall off. Protect your hand with newspaper or a glove for safety when you loosen the fig from the cactus with a twisting pull.

What is the best way to peel prickly pears?

As a precaution, also put on gloves to peel the prickly pears. Then, in the first step, remove the top and bottom of the fruit using a cross section with a sharp knife. Then slice the peel lengthways and roll the pulp out of the peel using a fork and a spoon. The fork holds the bowl while you push the spoon between the bowl and the pulp.

How do you eat prickly pears?

Cut into small cubes, the prickly pear is a real treat. By the way, the seeds are edible and do not have to be removed. You can also use them to propagate the prickly pear. If you want variety, you can also put the fruits in a natural yoghurt, make them into sorbet, cook jam from them or use them as an ingredient in a mixed salad.