Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tuna....the fruit?

During a recent visit to my parents' house, I noticed something reddish and semi prickly sitting on the counter. When I inquired, I was told that it was tuna. I was confused. Isn't tuna a fish? I didn't see fish, rather something resembling a cactus:

3 Tuna Fruits
I decided to explore further. After some research, I did find that tuna is indeed a type of fruit, stemming from opuntia, also known as nopales, a part of the cactus family. As a dietitian, I have heard of dishes that include nopales, but typically the actual cactus, not the fruit of the cactus. This prickly pear (as it is otherwise known), can be eaten, but the outer part of the skin needs to be carefully removed. Without proper removal, the pointy spines of a cactus could actually irritate my throat. I wanted to try the fruit, but waited until an "expert" (my mom) ate one.

First, she told me to take off the outer layer of the tuna revealing (in this case) red flesh:
Removing first layer of fruit
Once the outer purplish-greenish layer was taken off, then the inner red layer was also removed (had a spongy texture) but I believe some people eat this layer:
Tuna fruit with all layers removed
Finally, we reached the actual fruit. We cut it in half revealing tiny seeds (that can be eaten). The fruit was slightly sweet and juicy.
Tuna, cut in half 
While not my favorite fruit, it was definitely worth the adventure!

Dazzling Starfruit Meter:

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