Sabras, It’s What’s For Dinner

Sabras is the Hebrew word for the prickly pear cactus. It is commonly seen in Israel in the summer.

Sabras in the Shephelah. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I found a site with some recipes for the Sabra for those who may be interested:

The following tips are included:

  • Choose sabras with even color that give slightly to pressure.
  • Ripen sabras at room temperature until soft.
  • Store sabras in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  • Peel sabras carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin.
  • Section sabras and remove seeds
  • Serve sabras cold.

In an article entitled, “Persimmon,  loquat,  fig,  pomegranate  and  prickly  pear in Israel,” A. Blumefeld of the Institute of Horticulture, A.R.O. Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, Israel, writes:

Prickly  pear  is widespread  in  Israel,  mainly  as  a fence  plant  in  Arab  villages  where it  separates  fields.  As such it  is an extensive  non-irrigated  crop.  The  fruit  which  begins to  mature  in early  July  is consumed  locally  and  until  recently,  only  very  small  amounts of fruit  reached  organized  markets.

The main extensively  grown  cultivar is a thorny,  orange  cultivar.  The propagation of  the prickly  pear is vegetative  and  most  of  the  plants are similar.  However,  other types  occur  among  the  plants  which  show  different  types  of  “leaves”  and  fruits.

Growers  have  selected  some  with  a different  appearance,  mainly  for  home  gardens, with  some  for  large-scale  cultivation.  One  of  the  selections  is  almost  thornless;  it has been  named  ‘Offer’  and forms  the  basis  for  modern  cultivation  of  the prickly  pear.

Orchards  of  this  cultivar  are  planted  in rows  4×5 m apart  and  irrigation  and  fertilizers are applied. The  fruit  is brushed  in  packing  houses  and  is sold in fruit  shops  like  any other fruit.

On our recent trip to Israel Ferrell Jenkins did not offer to peel me one of these sabras for a snack. I’m sure it was only because he was too busy taking photos 🙂

Sabra, close-up. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on images for higher resolution.

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2 Responses to Sabras, It’s What’s For Dinner

  1. Barbara says:

    Are these anywhere mentioned in the Bible? If so, how is the word translated? I did a search, but it didn’t seem to be referring to a fruit or anything edible.



  2. Leon Mauldin says:

    Hi Barbara, Thanks for writing. No, sabras are not mentioned in the biblical text. They are not native to Israel. The website I included in the text made this point regarding their introduction to Israel: “While the cacti looks like a natural part of the Israeli landscape, they were actually imported to Israel from New Mexico and Arizona in the 19th century, according to Daniel Rogov.”


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