Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sabra Sorbet (Frozen Prickly Pear) PLUS How to Safely Cut Them Open

Photo by Sarah Melamed
Drive down any highway in Israel this summer and you will see spiny golden balls generously sprinkled along the tops of the cactus patches. This cactus fruit or prickly pear is called tsabar צבר in Hebrew and is the name sake of the native born Israeli - called a Sabra - prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside.

I don't have patience for Sabras. All the Israeli friends I've made in the last couple years were friendly on the outside, and any prickly people I've met still scare me. But this year I decided to get over my fear and buy my my own tsabar. Of course, I wasn't venturing into a cactus patch, I was just crossing the street to buy some de-clawed sabras. But even with the big thorns cut off, they can bite. 

Since the sabras were packaged, I was forced to buy a whole kilo. If I had only bought one or two, I probably would have been turned off by the seeds and quit, but being stuck with a whole bowl-full, I had to find something to do with them. It turns out they make a wonderful sorbet!

Before we begin, we must safely crack their prickly exterior.
1. soak the prickly pears in water and swish them all around. This removes the invisible spines. Now, with just a little caution and mutual respect, they can be safely handled without any additional protection.
2. Now cut off both ends of the sabra so you can see the sweet fruit inside.

3. Finally, slit the sabra length-wise and carefully roll the fruit out of the skin.

To make the sorbet, put all the peeled fruit in a blender or food processor and blend until the pulp and juice is separated from the seeds. Then, using a medium-large mesh strainer, pour the mixture through to remove the seeds.

Freeze the seedless juice and pulp. mix or blend the sabra soup every 2-4 hours to keep it from forming and solid mass. I like to put my whole food processor in the freezer and just take it out and blend it every couple hours. You can also just use a fork to scrape down the size and break up any large crystals. The more often you mix it, the fluffier and smoother it will be. That's the "recipe." Just prickly pears. No water, so sugar. Though I bet it would be grand with a splash of vodka.

To learn more about Sabras check out Sarah Melamed's Prickly Pear Expedition, where her sons go "fishing" for prickly pears and she shares a recipe for Prickly Pear Pie.


  1. ♡¸.°.¸♫♫♪

    O fruto é bonito, o sorvete também deve ser delicioso e colorido!
    Bom fim de semana!

  2. I have never seen prickly pears before. Sorbet looks great, lovely color! Thanks Yosefa for visiting me and for your sweet words :)

  3. How interesting!! Thanks for sharing this. I have never had a prickly pear...time to plan a trip to Israel! :)



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