PDO Prickly Pear is a Mexican plant largely widespread both In Spain and in Italy, mostly in Sicily where it has become a distinctive feature of the Sicilian landscape.
Priclky Pear tipically grows in dry areas and it can survive in temperatures well above 40°C.
Sicilian prickly pears production is second only to Mexico’s.
The Sicilian areas where it’s produced are San Cono, Belpasso, Militello, Paternò, Adrano and Biancavilla and their success is due to the climate, the soil, the surrounding vegetation and the low impact of this crop. The ripeness period goes from August to December.
Three varieties of Prikcly Pears can be found: Red (sanguigna, or bloody) Yellow and White.
In the Etna area, between 150 and 750 mt a.s.l., the presence of minerals in the soil gives to PDO Etna Prickly Pears a distinctive flavor.
The fruit has an egg shape and is made up of a juicy pulp with several woody seeds. It has a sweet and exotic flavor.
Its peel color differs according to the variety and it’s covered in very thin thorns, making it similar to common cactuses.
This fruit has extraordinary nutritional properties because it’s rich in Vitamin C, Carotene, Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium.
Its richness in fiber is useful to prevent constipation and the presence of pectin and mucilage is a natural aid against bowel inflammation and liver disease.
Prickly Pears fruits are used in cooking to prepare fruit juices, granitas, ice creams, but also risotto and other savory dishes.
The jelly extracted from its wooden leaves is used as a refresher and also to regularize digestive functions. It can also be used on skin as a healer and sanitizer.
Prickly Pears extracts can be used to prepare body creams and shampoos.