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Cooking with Sabras

Preparing Prickly Pears


Sabras - Prickly Pear Fruit

Sabras - Prickly Pear Fruit

Giora Shimoni
If you drive anywhere in Israel during July and August, you’ll see sabras being sold along the rode.

What are Sabras?

Sabras is the Hebrew word for the prickly pear fruit. But more interesting to note, sabras is slang for native Israeli Jews. What do native Israelis and prickly pear fruit have in common? Both are tough and thorny on the outside, and soft and sweet on the inside.

What are Pricky Pears?

Pricky pears are the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. This cactus has large flat pads, thorny fruits, and flowers that blossom annually. Sabra cacti can be seen scattered throughout the Israeli hills, where they were often planted to serve as natural dividers and barriers. While the cacti looks like a natural part of the Israeli landscape, they were actually imported to Israel from New Mexico and Arizona in the 19th century, according to Daniel Rogov.

While prickly pears are called sabras in Israel, elsewhere they are called Indian figs, barberry figs, and tuna. The fruit, which is rich in vitamin C, is very popular in Mexico, Central and South America, Mediterranean countries and parts of Africa. The fruit is gradually becoming more popular in the United States.

The outside of prickly pears range in color from green to purplish-red. The inside of prickly pears range in color from light yellow-green to deep golden. The fruit’s flesh is soft, porous and scattered with black seeds.

How to Prepare Prickly Pears
  • Choose sabras with even color that give slightly to pressure.
  • Ripen sabras at room temperature until soft.
  • Store sabras in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Peel sabras carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin.
  • Section sabras and remove seeds
  • Serve sabras cold.
Recipes with Sabras

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