The origin of Prickly Pear oil 30 november 2012 – Posted in: Prickly Pear

Prickly pear oil is a hand-pressed product coming from the seeds of the prickly pear, also referred to as Barbary-fig cactus or Nopal cactus. The prickly pear is the fruit of the cactus, of which the Opuntia ficus-indica is the best known. The figs that grow from this cactus look like pears with prickles, hence the name Prickly Pear. In North Africa the fruit is appreciated for its taste.

The prickly pear cactus grows in the Mediterranean area, especially in Morocco, Portugal and Spain. But also in Latin America and South Africa.

The fruit is peeled before eating. The coral/ red colored fruit flesh is full of little dark eatable seeds.

Pressing the oil

During a very time absorbing and laborious process the oil is extracted from the seeds of the prickly pear. To gain one liter of prickly pear oil the seeds of a thousand prickly pears are needed. The seeds are separated by hand or machine. What remains is 30 kilos of seeds and 970 kilo of pulp. After this process the seeds are dried to the air and then cold pressed.

Cold pressing is very laborious and produces less oil than other methods like pressing under high pressure and with high speed. In that case the seeds are warmed, so the chemical composition of the oil can change and vitamins are lost.