Wild prickly pear cactus grows wild primarily in the south and southwestern U.S. desert areas and Mexico. It ripens in the late fall – be sure to harvest a few if you happen upon some of this amazing plant. Also known as Nopal Cactus- the pads can be eaten as a vegetable, and the pear is eaten as a fruit.
It is great for fighting chronic inflammation- it contains 24 anti-inflammatory polyphenolic pigments.
Studies have also shown that this amazing plant lowers blood sugar in type 2 diabetics- by promoting better absorption of glucose into cells.
Prickly pear leaves can sometimes be found in grocery stores, although these have normally been grown on a nopal farm. Cactus harvested from the wild is preferred.
Some people remove the spines by burning (or torching), and others prefer to peel off the skin of the plant. The leaf (nopal) can be sliced and stir-fried as a vegetable; the pear can be juiced. Be sure to keep an eye out for the prickly pear in the late fall- it’s a great way to add variety and wildness to your food!