Friday, August 27, 2010

Sabras--the taste of summer

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It's sabra season!

I tried to get a picture of a big sabra cactus through the bus window and ended up with a bonus--a reflection for James' Weekend Reflections.
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My neighbor was outside on his steps peeling the prickly pears, so I went over to watch and to sample some sabras.
He himself is a Sabra (a native-born Israeli), so since childhood he has known how to pick and peel this fruit of the cactus.
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I asked to learn his secrets of painless preparation of the fruit:

1. Pick them at 5:oo in the morning when the thorns are still soft from the dew.
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2. Put them on the ground, turn on the garden hose, and brush them with a stiff broom.
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3. You can then also soak them in water for a further softening of the remaining stickers.
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4. Hold the sabra in one protected hand, as illustrated.
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5. Cut off the top and bottom of the fruit.
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6. Make a cut from top to bottom.
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7. Reach in and pull out the slippery bare fruit with your bare hand.
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8. Bless and eat (and pray that no barb gets stuck in your finger, or worse yet, your tongue).
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20 comments:

Turquoise Diaries said...

Dina, thanks for this how to receipe but I think I will still buy them from the market..but to tell you the truth I have never thought about asking how they are peeling them

Eki said...

Hmmm, this is very interesting, Dina. I've never seen a sabra before (and didn't even know if such fruit existed). Is it like the dragon fruit? How does it taste?

Hilda said...

Gosh, that sounds like a very difficult fruit to gather and prepare. Is the taste worth the effort?

Rob and Mandy said...

Oh yes, would love some!

cieldequimper said...

I've seen some but never tried them YET. Now I think I'm going to have to!

jeff campbell said...

Very interesting about the cactus...and a reflection bonus! Peace and blessings

Kay said...

Now that is quite interesting. I think there was some kind of cactus fruit thing that Art mentioned they might have eaten on the Big Island. I'll have to ask him. I've never eaten cactus. I wonder what it tastes like. A thorn in the tongue? YIKES!

Dina said...

Turquoise Diaries, really, you can buy them ready to eat??

Eki, well, I don't know dragon fruit so I can't compare. Sabras are pretty sweet.

Hilda, well, I am too lazy or not brave enough to pick and prepare them myself. But Israelis have some kind of traditional attachment to the sabras. Hard to explain such love.
A native-born Israeli is called a sabra because he, and sometimes she, is said to be prickly on the exterior but sweet and soft on the inside.

Rob and Mandy, you know them!

Ciel, bon appetit.

Jeff, thanks for your nice greetings.

Kay, I wait to hear what Art ate.
It's funny to hear "eating cactus."
Yeah, it's the tiny invisible barbs that give you pain for days. They can become airborne when you are handling the fruit and can fly onto people's clothes.
I managed to get two out of my finger and thumb with a tweezers after I ate the neighbor's fruit. But it may have come from carrying his basket of peels to the garbage.

Dina said...

Doram Gaunt reminisces about the sabra in his childhood and tells how the commercially grown sabras of today have been tamed.
Nice article at
http://www.haaretz.com/in-a-prickle-1.197257

He says
"The sabra, or tzabar, as it is called in Hebrew, is the fruit of a cactus that originates in Mexico, thrives in hot climates and ripens at the height of the summer. When it was brought to Europe by the Spaniards in the 16th century and spread to other regions, including the Middle East, it was given the names of other fruits like "Indian fig" or "prickly pear." Though in the Americas they also ate the green leaves, in Europe and the Middle East they mainly prefered the sweet fruit of the sabra."

Thom said...

Thanks for sharing all of this. The reflection from the bus is excellent. It sure does seem hard to prepare :) Have a good weekend :)

James said...

I think I've seen them before but I didn't know what they are called.
I agree with Ciel. :)

spacedlaw said...

My love once picked up a prickly pear with his bear hands! silly man. Even I, the northern girl could have told him not to.

VP said...

I'll pass, but I'm sure they are delicious...

Francisca said...

I don't know if it's the same fruit, but I do know my aunt used to live in Arizona and make the BEST cactus fruit jelly. That was many many moons ago.

katney said...

I think that theya re the same or a close relative of the pricly pear of the American Southwest. We can purchse in the supermarket, though I don't. Some of my Mexican-American neighbors do and make nopales--a pickled prickly pear.

katney said...

Wait, I think I am mistaken, the nopales are made from the pads of the cactus, which we can also find in the supermarket.

JM said...

Although we have many prickly pears around I have never tried the fruit...

nathalie in avignon said...

A friend of mine who used to live in Morocco as a child told me that her elder brothers used to roll the fruit in the sand at the beach before eating them. That seemed to work fine. I'd never heard about softening the prickles with water.

Now about the name - the French call it "figue de barbarie".
I love the reason you give why native Israelis are called Sabras. Nice!

nathalie in avignon said...

You can also buy them from the fruit and veg shops here but they're expensive...

amaraentus said...

shalom beautiful Dina, only your journal could give such a strong sense of history to eating a fruit.

-wonderful presentation.