Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Here you can see almost the whole spectrum of the development of the luscious prickly pear fruit. The base of the flower buds grows as the flower matures. Once the flower has bloomed, the base continues to grow. It is really a seed pod full of black hard seeds. However, the pod itself ripens into a bright crimson, sweet and tart tasting fruit. Around Labor Day every year, the fruit are ripe for picking. Of course, you have to be extremely careful in picking them because the fruits are covered with extremely small and sharp spines called glochids. These spines are almost like fur but can enter the skin instantly and feel like tiny sharp needles. We used to use an open flame to burn off the glochids, but now we extract the juice with a steam juicer and strain the juice through cloth to prevent the spines from getting into the juice. The prickly pear juice can be used to make syrup or jelly. There is nothing as good as well made prickly pear jelly!