Prickly Pear Cactus - Soothe Cuts, Scrapes and Burns While Strengthening Your Immune System
The prickly pear cactus is also known as an Indian fig and cactus pear. Primary valued as a food and medicine, the prickly pear cactus also has other unique applications. The cactus is unique because it is especially cultivated for its food value. Few cactus fall into this category.
More than one hundred species of this cactus grow in Mexico. All of them develop edible fruit; some are acidic while others are sweet as honey. Allow the fruit to mature longer, the more acidic and fibrous it becomes. The prickly pear fruit is a much sought after Mexican delicacy.
The fruit from this cactus comes in many different colors. The red type is on top of the list, followed by the white ones. Green, yellow, brown and purple are also common colors of the prickly pear fruit. Nutritionally speaking, the cactus contains a high amount of vitamin C, which most of us know, is a powerful antioxidant.
The cactus grows abundantly throughout Mexico. The Mediterranean, Australia, Africa, South America and United States are regions the prickly pear cacti are also successfully grown. In Sicily and Argentina the Indian Fig is considered an agriculture crop, the pads being the most often sought after and harvested portion of the cactus.
The cactus pads are flat stems. These grow between four and sixteen inches long, about nine inches wide and less than an inch thick. The shapes of these pads vary from plant to plant. The prickly pear wears a body of armor in the form of long, sharp spines.
The prickly pear cactus has many culinary uses
The pear cactus has many culinary applications, everything from deserts to appetizers. It is even used to produce candy. The pads are used like other vegetables and the fruit made into jams and jellies. The seeds are dried then made into cooking flour. The flour is then added to soups and other dishes.
Landscape uses and more
The cactus can also make an exotic looking worthwhile hedge, used as an intimidating wall of spines deterring small animals and predators from entering. The sap is believed to have burn healing properties much like the Aloe Vera plant. Mosquito larvae are killed off when the sap is placed in water infested with the larvae. The sap has also been used in to produce candles.
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