APPLE VALLEY — The prickly pear grows on the Beavertail cactus (Nopal) found in San Bernardino county and other regions of the southwestern United States. The sweet tasting fruit and medicinal benefits of the cactus pad makes the plant a good wild food resource available from early spring through summer.
It’s important to prepare the fruit and pads to make them edible. This includes removing the prickles in order to take the fruit from the plant without injury.
1: Use a BBQ lighter to burn the prickles off the fruit and any prickles on surrounding cactus pads that may cause injury
2: Twist the soft fruit off the cactus pads.
3: Rinse the fruit with water.
4: Use a knife to open the fruit and enjoy!
The Cahuilla, Chumash, Kumeyaay and Serrano are a few of the local tribes that use cactus pads for prevention and control of diabetes. The pads are prepared in the same manner as the fruit but are boiled, grilled or sauteed prior to eating.
The fruit is often made into a juice or jam. They are said to be high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Other health benefits include weight loss, improved hair and skin, and improved liver health.
Largo, Donna. Medicinal Plants used by Native American Tribes in Southern California. Banning. Malki-Ballena Press. 2009.
Streit, Lizzie. “Prickly Pear: Nutrition, Benefits, Recipes, and More.” https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/prickly-pear-benefits