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Fresh Tuna! The cactus, not the fish

IN SEASON NOW!  June- November
It’s an adjustment for most English speakers to use the word “Tuna” when referring to a fruit, but that’s the name used in Mexico for the prickly pear. There are many varieties, all from Opuntia species of cactus. You’ll see green, yellow, orange, splotchy pink with white, and bright pink. Each has a distinct flavor and these can almost be matched with melons of the same colors…
Green– light fresh mineral -like taste of cucumber with sweetness of honeydew (Casaba, Persian) melon
Orange– a bit sweeter than the green variety, and more like canteloupe in flavor
Pink – sweeter, like watermelon and strawberry
All the fruits are full of tiny hard seeds… these are absolutely fine to eat and give your intestines and colon a good cleaning as they pass through! They can be removed by giving the fruits a spin in a belnder or food processor and then passing the pulp through a sieve. You’ll get a nice clear juice this way, but you lose some of the valuable fibre!
If you buy unpeeled tuna, even though they will have been cleaned, it’s still likely there will be small sharp spines, tiny as hairs, attached – especially around the top. So handle them very carefully, or best, let the vendor bag them for you.
The Opuntia is the most utilized cactus in Mexico – the Nopal… providing also a vegetable to those who brave the spines to harvest it. It’s one of many examples of how the Mexican diet makes the most of what’s available.
You’ll learn more about how to use the tuna and nopal in my upcoming eBook,
‘Frutas y Verduras’ – Your Guide to Mexico’s Fruits and Vegetables

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