How to Cook With Prickly Pear (3:07)
Whether you’re a novice in the kitchen or a professional home cook, you can take advantage of summer’s bounty of fresh and nutritious fruits with this go-to guide developed by chef and registered dietitian Jessica Swift. With a background in both culinary arts and dietetics, Swift helps clients bridge the gap between nutrition research and real life.
Before getting started, always remember to wash fresh fruit and make sure your kitchen tools are clean, including your cutting board and knife. Place a damp kitchen towel under your cutting board to keep the board from sliding. When working with round fruits, slice fruit to create a flat base and cut with the flat surface down for the most stability.
Also called alligator pear, avocado is a healthy source of monounsaturated fats (the good kind).
Place an avocado lengthwise on a clean cutting board. Hold the avocado with one hand and with a sharp knife in the other hand, slice through the avocado lengthwise. Cut through the avocado to the pit but do not try to slice through the pit. Flip the avocado and slice again, creating two halves. If your avocado is firm and does not separate easily after cutting, grasp both halves and gently twist and loosen the fruit until the halves separate. Use a spoon to scoop the avocado fruit out of its hard peel and around the pit.
High in vitamins A and C, fresh cantaloupe is a popular addition to any fruit bowl and can be stored uncut for up to one week.
With a sharp knife, slice both ends of a cantaloupe so you can stand the fruit upright on your cutting board. Then, cut the melon straight down the middle to separate it into two halves. Remove the cantaloupe seeds with a spoon or melon scoop. For cantaloupe wedges, place each half cut-side down and slice lengthwise again. To remove the cantaloupe rind, use a small paring knife and run the knife between the edge of the fruit and rind completely.
Also known as pitaya or pitahaya, dragon fruit is known for its vibrant appearance and colorful red or white fruit. At the grocery store or farmer’s market, avoid bruised dragon fruit and choose fruits that offer a little give when pressed and have a bright color.
To cut a dragon fruit, slice in half lengthwise on a cutting board. Scoop the soft fruit inside with a spoon. The extra-small black seeds of a dragon fruit are edible and have a slight crunch.
The largest tree fruit in the world, jackfruit has a sweet scent when ripe and a meaty texture when cooked.
Before slicing a jackfruit, make sure to oil your knife and hands. Place the jackfruit on its side and cut large rounds. For each round, cut out the center or fibrous core. Once the fibrous core is removed, you can unravel each round, pull apart the jackfruit, and remove the seeds. Discard the fibrous membrane and jackfruit peel.
Like dragon fruit, mangoes should offer a little give when pressed but should not be mushy.
You can peel a mango first with a standard kitchen peeler or with a paring knife, before slicing. Place the mango on a clean cutting board lengthwise and slice each side of the fruit, into four quarters. This leaves a rectangular core with the pit intact, which you can eat around.
Papaya supports eye health with its high antioxidants and vitamin A.
Slice the stem of a papaya first. Then, cut the fruit lengthwise, splitting it in half. Use a spoon or melon scoop to remove the black seeds. Place each half cut-side down and slice the fruit lengthwise again, producing four wedges. To remove the papaya peel, you can run a paring knife between the edge of the fruit and peel.
For fresh pineapple, choose fruit with dark green leaves and avoid any with dark or soft spots.
Place the pineapple on its side, slicing off the crown and the base of the fruit. Once you have a flat bottom, place the pineapple into an upright position before cutting again. With a sharp knife, start slicing the pineapple peel from top to bottom. Turn the fruit slightly with each cut until all of the peel is removed. After the peel is completely removed, you will see brown spots or “eyes.” The pineapple eyes run in diagonal lines along the fruit. To remove the eyes, cut in a v-shape, removing each row as you work your way around the pineapple. When the eyes are completely removed, slice the pineapple into quarters lengthwise, leaving a rectangular core. Each pineapple quarter can than be diced into chunks or cut into smaller slices.
Juicy and sweet, pomegranate seeds pack a punch with nutrients like vitamin K.
Slice off the bottom of a pomegranate to create a stable base. Use a paring knife to cut off the crown of the pomegranate. Next, place the pomegranate upright on your cutting board and make a shallow cut from the top to the bottom of the fruit. Then, turn the fruit and work your way around, making four more shallow cuts. This will yield five sections of seeds when the pomegranate is split open. Grasp the pomegranate firmly with both hands and place both thumbs where the crown used to be. Start prying open the fruit and exposing the seeds and white membrane.
To separate the pomegranate seeds, place a section of seeds in a bowl of clean water and run your thumbs gently against the seeds. The seeds will start to sink in the bowl and the membrane will float to the top of the bowl. Use a slotted spoon to scoop and discard the membrane before pouring the seeds and water through a strainer.
Also called cactus fruit or cactus pear, prickly pear is a great source of magnesium. Look for prickly pears without dark spots or mold.
Since prickly pears can stain surfaces easily, Swift recommends using a pair of gloves and an abrasive sponge. With the fruit in one gloved hand, scrub the fruit under cold water to remove its thorns. When the thorns are removed, let the fruit dry on a clean cutting board that you do not mind getting stained. To cut, place the pear on its side and cut away the top and bottom, creating a stable base. Place the fruit upright and slice lengthwise. Then, make one cut from the top to the bottom of the fruit, creating a flap with the skin. With your hand, peel away the fruit from the skin and discard the skin. Chop the fruit as desired. The small seeds of the prickly pear are safe to eat and do not need to be removed.
Approximately ninety percent water, watermelon is refreshing when chilled.
Place your watermelon on its side on a cutting board and slice off the top and bottom to create a stable base. Stand the watermelon upright and use a serrated knife to slice the melon in half lengthwise. Place each half cut-side down and slice each half into quarter wedges. You can also remove the rind by sliding a paring knife between the rind and white part of the fruit.