The bountiful late-summer produce from the farm includes a Babylonstoren favourite….prickly pears in all colours. Delicious, versatile and easy to grow from a single leaf (with good selection and tight control), the prickly pear promises to be back on the foodie scene.

Prickly pears have such a rich past in South Africa, that they are considered by many as “South African”, but in fact the prickly pear (or cactus pear) hails from Mexico and Central America, and was brought to our southern shores in the late 1700’s.

Prickly pear garden at Babylonstoren

Apart from the prickly pears in our garden’s famed prickly pear maize, we have no less than 11 varieties of Opuntia ficus- indica growing on the farm, and they are in season now! This “cinderella” of the fruit community has countless uses; we’re also trying our hand at ink-making, using the deep purple-coloured fruits of Opuntia robusta from the garden.

Prickly pears at Babylonstoren FarmCustom made tool to harvest prickly pears at Babylonstoren

Hannes, our farmer, invented this handy contraption to harvest the prickly pear. But the old-fashioned way of harvesting, with a tin attached to a stick, still proves to be the most effective for those hard-to-reach delicacies.

Getting rid of prickly pear thorns with the use of newspaper

Tip: Get rid of most of the spines, by rubbing the skin of the prickly pear with newspaper, alternatively use protective gloves when working with this cheeky fruit.

Display of the different prickly pears on Babylonstoren

Just some of the varieties that are fruiting now, and the chefs, farmers, and garden team are in agreement that the “Messinaand “Zastron” variety has the best flavour, whilst the “Meyers” variety has the most beautiful colour – a vibrant, hot pink!

Cutting a prickly pear How to cut a prickly pear

How to peel a prickly pear:

  1. Stick the fork in the side of the prickly pear.
  2. Cut off each of the thorny ends and discard.
  3. Make one long vertical slice down the body of the prickly pear. You need to cut through the skin of the prickly pear and not into the flesh of the fruit.
  4. Peel the skin off the fruit using the knife and fork.
  5. Place the peeled fruit in the fridge and enjoy a few hours later, ice cold!

Lovely display of prickly pears in tot glasses to be enjoyed