The leaves of the cactus are also edible. These are called paddles. I can't seem to find out how to process them or use them in recipes. So I haven't done anything with ours before. I understand they are cooked somewhat like green beans. Sliced and diced into smaller pieces. But they can be slimy like okra, so you have to know how to prepare them. One day I will find someone who knows what to do, and I will learn.
Now that I think about it, I think the blooms are edible, too. So I guess just about all the cactus parts are edible. The blooms can be fried and used in other dishes.
Cattle also like cactus. If I don't plan to do anything with our cactus pears, we dump them out in the pasture for the cows. We will also see the cows nibble the paddles, if there are any within reach!
So now you have a quick tutorial in using cactus to feed your family. I often see big cactus patches in someone's yard, and am tempted to stop and ask if I can pick the pears. I haven't done that yet, though. But you can usually get cactus to plant in your yard for free. And I hate to waste items I can use to feed my family for free. We also have some cactus that is spineless. We would like to get more of this growing and phase out the other type of cactus.
In case you were wondering, you pick the cactus pears with some sort of long tool, and you probably should wear gloves. I use long bar b q tongs. Then you singe the spines off the cactus pears. At this point you would be ready to juice them.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Honey