Eating Prickly Pear Cactus

Photo shows fruits in bowl, skinned pads (nopales) in plate. I was defeated by this plant a few years ago, just could not get stickers out, especially from skins of fruit. This time, with help from Nature’s Gardens — Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer, I got more serious. Used tongs to hold, scrubbed with stiff brush, used heavy duty potato peeler on pads. Still difficult, but was able to eat fruit without mouth punctured with stickers — nice mild sweet taste, lot of seeds —  and last night sauteed the pads along with garlic and onions, pretty good.

   Any one got tips on cleaning, eating? These are so abundant, at least  on the West Coast.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

12 Responses to Eating Prickly Pear Cactus

  1. Yes, torching will do it. I've heard older relatives talk about burning the stickers off prickly pear in a drought so that the cattle could eat them. The big problem was that the cows learned to like it so much that they were willing to tackle unprepared cacti. Then their mouths would become infected from the thorns.

  2. Nopales are great chopped up and sauteed with scrambled eggs. I got this idea from Martha Rose Schulman's Mexican Cooking Light…I think she has several other nopales recipes as well. The book is probably available at your local library or through Link +.

  3. The round ones like in the upper image are popular in Peru and are said to be good to eat if one has an upset stomach. Before picking, slap it with a rag and you can handle it. Then peal it as the street sellers do and eat raw. Yummy. Seemed to settle my stomach

  4. Hi Lloyd,
    Love your blog and your house books – keep up the good work.

    My wife and I have a acre of land in the hills of Sicily. We intend to build a self-sustainable timber framed house there, one day.
    We are surrounded by Cacti and the locals soak the pears in a bucket of cold water, overnight. You can then handle them without fear! I'm not a big fan of them, as there are too many seeds. I have witnessed my farmer neighbour just pull a pear of the cactus, peel it with his bear hands and eat it!

    BTW, I live in the UK at the moment.

    Regards and a Happy New Year.

  5. There is a spineless variety should you be starting from scratch. Terribly easy to grow. I picked on up that people left on curb for trash and dropped in front yard on way into house, intending to plant in back later that week. It had started to grow before that. Beautiful flowers, though short-lived.

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