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Picking and Preparing Prickly Pears in Sicily

October 8, 2012

All the many years I lived away from Sicily, I always missed eating Sicilian prickly pears in the Fall.  Then, one day, a few years ago, I approached a prickly pear bush without practicing the necessary precautions.  I ran to the bush, picked a prickly pear with my bare hands, proceeded to peel and eat the fruit.  The sad result was months of painful spines attached to my tongue, hands and arms.  I knew the proper way to handle prickly pears, but in a moment of total irrationality, I didn’t follow the rules. 

Recently, while visiting my childhood friend, Lina, and her family, at their home in Belpasso, on the foothills of Mt. Etna, I told her husband, Pippo I wanted to pick some prickly pears.  He insisted we go together to the prickly pear bush and I follow the rules.  So, armed with the proper tool, heavy gloves on my hands, off we went.  I picked the fruits and then Pippo took the proper precautions in pealing them. 

First, one soaks the fruit as to allow the spines to separate from the peel. Then, wearing heavy duty gloves, one peels the fruit. The proper locations of where to cut the peel are shown in the picture.  


First a cut on the end and one along the length of  the fruit


I love this fruit! But watch out – the seeds could stick to your  teeth!



A dessert made with the prickly pears by  Pippo’s sister, Vita.  So delicious!









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