Chumbo is the fruit of the prickly pear cactus that grows among the olive trees on the way down to the rio. They are ripe now, and delicious, but they have to be peeled carefully to remove the small spines on the outer skin before consumption. It is neither a pear nor a fig, but is a fruit from any one of the 300 varieties of cacti from this species. They appear in a variety of colors - green, yellow, orange, pink, or crimson. Inside, the flesh may be green, yellow, or red, with a melon-like texture. You find them all over the Mediterranean area: Libya, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, southern Spain and France, Italy, Sicily, Struma River in Bulgaria, in southern Portugal and Madeira, Egypt, Greece, Corfu, Cyprus, Malta...
There has been medical interest in the plant. Some studies have shown that the pectin contained in the pulp lowers levels of "bad" cholesterol while leaving "good" cholesterol levels unchanged. Another study found that the fibrous pectin in the fruit may lower diabetics' need for insulin. Both fruit and pads of the prickly pear cactus are rich in slowly absorbed soluble fibers that help keep blood sugar stable. And, they might have a reducing effect on alcohol hangover by inhibiting the production of inflammatory mediators. Either way this is a nutritious fruit — high in vitamin C, fiber, and much more.
Another interesting aspect to these cactus is the insect that feeds on them. These are the insects (Dactylopius coccus) which are famous for producing cochineal, the natural red dye made by crushing their bodies.
AND THIS IS HOW YOU PEEL THEM: