Tuna fruit of the Prickly Pear cactus

One highly looked-forward-to harvest each year is that of the Prickly Pear cactus. Found in great abundance in every supermarket and fruit stand in the country, tuna (not the fish, but the fruit) is a wonderful fruit that is consumed for its water.

The fruit, while small, have a thick leathery skin that is loaded with tiny spikes. They are extremely small but very irritating against the skin, so one must take care when handling them. If you buy them in supermarkets, they should already be cleaned, but it is common to get a prickle or two of spines nonetheless.

It’s easy enough to scrub them under running water to be rid of the tiny splinters. You can also run them over an open flame to burn off the painful spinas.

The fruit can range in color from green (less sweet) to red (very sweet) and are commonly found later summer to early fall.

Once cut into, the inside of the fruit is loaded with small dark seeds. A lot of people consume the seeds along with the fruit by simply swallowing them (they’re hard and cannot be bitten), but if you’re only after the water, simply use a strainer to separate one from the other. A few tablespoons of tuna juice blended with natural or carbonated water is a fantastic refreshment on a hot day.