Sicily is one of the biggest world producers of Prickly Pear or Cactus-pear (Opuntia ficus indica), with about 4.000 hectares of cultivated fruits that is equivalent to the 90% of the total European cultivation.
The Sicilian Prickly Pear has three varieties: the Yellow (Surfarina), the Red (Sanguigna) and the White-Greenish (Muscaredda); the crop usually goes from August to December.
Besides pigments as functional component in food coloring stuff, cactus pear contains additional components of high nutritional importance.
The free amino acid content, readily absorbable sugars, high contents of Magnesium, Calcium as well as technologically interesting fibers, make cactus pear very special.
In fact, Prickly Pear consumption is of benefit to the system thanks to its good antioxidant properties.
The main antioxidants contained in this fruit are two Betalainic compounds, the red purple Betanin and the yellow Indicaxanthin that have a strong antioxidant effect.
This fruit contains also Taurine which has recently been re-evaluated in nutritional science.
Furthermore, it contains source of Vitamin A, some of Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C and Vitamin E (111-115 mg per 100g of fresh fruit).
Cactus pear is also rich in Phosphorus and Sodium. In particular, high Calcium (up to 59 mg/100g) and Magnesium (up to 98.4 mg/100g) content makes Prickly Pear juices useful in the prevention of osteoporosis and cramps, respectively.
CitroGlobe processes and sell the Prickly Pear in four qualities:
- Prickly Pear Cloudy Puree Concentrate 38° brix ;
- Clear Prickly Pear Concentrate 54° brix;
- Semi-clear Prickly Pear Concentrate 40° brix;
- Prickly Pear Puree NFC Single Strength;
In conclusion, a multi-ingredient product like cactus pear puree holds promising answers for tailor-made food and drinks by embracing all essential ingredients like color, Taurine, Amino Acids, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, highly soluble fibers and incredible refreshing flavor. Natural and healthy, cactus pear fits best in the pattern of food with added value.