The flowers of the prickly pear are astringent and softening: they are used against diarrhea and intestinal irritations. They stop benign hemorrhages. Free of their thorns, the young fleshy stems form an emollient poultice.
Infusion of prickly pears: 4 to 15 g of flowering tops in half a liter of boiling water. Drink 2 cups of tea per day, in case of cooling.
Maceration: 30 g per liter of white wine. Leave for 15 days in contact and drink 2 glasses in Bordeaux per day. Use as a tonic.
Poultice: grind the flowering tops and apply to wounds and bruises.
Growing the prickly pear for its benefits
It is an absolute necessity; the prickly pear needs full sun and a warm exposure. Any poor, deep and well-drained soil, even stony or salty, is suitable for prickly pears. Wear good gloves when you start to prune a prickly pear or when you want to harvest its fruits: its thorns are very thin and formidable! They break extremely easily and stay in the skin.
The prickly pear in a pot
If you use a sandy substrate, you will be able to keep a prickly pear in a pot for several years. On the other hand, it is rare that it gives fruit.
Beware of little animals!
The mealy bugs mealy are the worst enemies of the prickly pear. When you see them, remove them manually.
The prickly pear in cooking for its benefits
The prickly pear is eaten raw or cooked in jam (mixed with quinces) but also in fruit paste. Fermented, it gives tequila. In Mexico, cooked Barbary snowshoes are eaten cut into strips like green beans. The prickly pear is particularly effective (as a fruit or food supplement) in the context of:
- Diet (appetite suppressant and low in calories);
- Diabetes (blocks the influx of glucose into the blood);
- Cholesterol (reduces bad -LDL- and favors good -HDL-);
- Stomach and bowel pain;
- Gastrointestinal disorders;
- Diarrheal disorders.
Make no mistake about it!
It may be called “prickly pear”, it has nothing to do with the fig tree. North Africa does not represent its country of origin. Its harvest is quite delicate. Not because of the thorns of the cactus but because of the “glochids” (a kind of small barbed spines) gathered in bundles, which dot the surface. They get stuck in the fingers or the palate and it is extremely difficult to dislodge them.
For picking use a stick whose end is divided into three, the fruits will get stuck there. Then, a little sharp blow is enough to detach them from their support. All you have to do is roll them in the sand or rub them very carefully in the sink.