The prickly pear, a fruit rich in pulp and seeds

A prickly pear may contain 50% juice and about 4% seeds. From these seeds, it is extracted on average 3% of their weight in prickly pear oil. Thus, to produce 1 liter of oil, it takes about 30kg of seeds. This represents more than 1 ton of prickly pear.

You can learn more by reading our article detailing the benefits of prickly pear oil.

The origins of the prickly pear

This plant of the Cactaceae family, called “Cactaceae”, belongs to Central America.

It is cultivated in arid lands and is easily acclimatized to hot and dry climates. Also, the prickly pear tree is characterized by thick, elliptical and prickly stems and a fruit rich in vitamin C, which is called prickly pear.

Moreover, in spring, on the prickly pear tree, flowers bloom whose colors can vary from one species to another: pale or bright yellow, sulphur yellow or satin.

figuiers de barbarie en floraison

figue de barbarie fleur

Moreover, Opuntia Ficus Indica & Opuntia Vulgaris represent the two most known species of prickly pear tree. First, the first one corresponds to the precious prickly pear, very famous for its prickly fruit, with red, yellow or whitish green interior.

The second one produces purple and red fruits smoother than the Opuntia Ficus Indica.

opuntia ficus indica (droite)
opuntia ficus vulgaris (gauche)

figue de barbarie - opuntia ficus indica et vulgaris

The exploitations of the prickly pear

Many uses and products are obtained from the prickly pear.

First of all, the prickly pear, as well as the young buds with many nutritional values, are eaten in different ways. Notably in dessert after having stripped the prickly pear of its skin. Also in jam, compote or fruit paste.

Moreover, it can also be found in the form of oily macerate (not to be confused with the oil of prickly pear seeds) and, after fermentation, in non-alcoholic drink.

figues de barbarie

figue de barbarie

We exploit the seeds to produce the precious oil of prickly pear seeds. Rich above all in vitamin E, it presents virtues without equal on the market of the natural oils.

Moreover, the cactus raquettes can also be cooked in salad or fried.

How to extract the precious oil of prickly pear?

Collection and depulping of the prickly pear

The precious oil of prickly pear is extracted by cold pressing of the seeds through a codified process. Indeed, it is necessary first to harvest the prickly pears while checking that they are sufficiently ripe. Also, in Morocco, this period of harvest is between the months of July and September.

Thereafter, it is necessary to peel the prickly pears, to wash them then to depulp them and to collect exclusively the invaluable seeds of prickly pear. While the pulp collected separately from the seeds allows to produce the prickly pear jam.

figues de barbarie dépulpées

figue de barbarie fruit

Drying and extraction of prickly pear seeds

Then, the seeds are washed again and dried to reduce the moisture content. This essential step is carried out with care to dry the prickly pear seeds at the right level. Indeed, seeds too dried would produce little oil of prickly pear seeds or, worse, would be unusable.

pépins pour produire l’huile de figue de barbarie

Graines de Figue de Barbarie - figue barbarie Ayda

Finally, we press the dried seeds to extract the precious prickly pear oil. Finally, it will be filtered to extract the oil without the possible residues generated during the pressing phase.

Thus, the yields of prickly pear oil production represent a low level and depend on several characteristics. Indeed, the maturity of the fruit, the harvest period but also the production methods are data to be taken into account.