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prickly pear information/sources?

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i'm really getting into new fruit flavors this summer and i remember having a prickly pear paleta last summer at my favorite paleta shop.
it tasted so wonderfully sweet and familiar, yet i couldn't tag it as being close in flavor to anything in particular besides maybe pomegranate and lemons.
is there a particular season for prickly pears and if so, where can i find them when they're in season?
also, how do you pick them out for ripeness, sweetness, etc.?
thanks in advance!

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  1. In Spanish, the fruit is called tuna. It's difficult to google in English but here's a start from Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opuntia

    I'm not a huge fan of them since I was subjected to them as a kid in Mexico City and didn't like the texture or the big seeds inside them.

    Locally, they're sold in most good Mexican supermarkets. They also grow wild all over the So Cal region if you're up to picking your own. I see them on nearly every hiking trail I frequent.

    1. They need to be able to be pushed but not mushy (like a peach, for example, or an apricot).

      You can buy them, in season, at any Latino market. As the Prof. said, they're called "tuna" (like La Tuna Canyon Rd.). They are, in fact, everywhere, though, and you can get them anywhere -- there's even a huge stand of the cactus along Runyon Canyon.

      1. When in season, they are generally available in most Mexican markets. I believe they are in season during our summer months. The red variety is more attractive but I think the green variety is much tastier. Try chilled and sliced with a squirt of lime and a sprinkle of salt.

        1. Anyone know where I would find Mexican street vendors selling prickly pears? When I used to live in the Bay Area, they would around downtown Oakland, selling them pre-peeled, ready to eat and especially sweet...I'd love to find something similar in Los Angeles.

          BTW the Ralphs on Olympic & Beverly Glenn sells them for $1/each...outrageous.

          4 Replies
          1. re: galori

            Super King market in Glendale (on San Fernando Road) gets them and they are 10 for $1. You cant beat that price. Ioad up every time i go there. I would call first though to confirm that they have them as they are not always there.

            1. re: carln

              just bought about 25 of them for $3.50 at Lennox Market @ 10804 S Inglewood Ave, Inglewood, CA - they're 59c / lbs

              1. re: galori

                red ones or the green ones?

                1. re: carln

                  both! I bought about 20 of each, the green ones were much better / tastier

          2. alkylou-
            The produce vendors in the Central and Olympic area, just southeast of downtown , have them. The vendors on the south side of the street will sell them individually or by the pound. The produce vendors on the north side of the street, where its fenced in but also open to the public, tend to sell in bulk.

            1. One of my favorite drinks is Horchata w/ a chopped prickly pair in the drink,,,Oaxacan Style!

              1. on a sidenote theres a restaurant called fat fish in west hollywood that has amazing prickly pear cocktails. Its offered on their happy hour everyday from 5-7