Sunday, September 16, 2012

Prickley Pear Fruit

Prickley Pear cactus have the most delicious fruit imaginable. After the beautiful flowers have faded, the seed pods mature over the hot summer months and by Labor Day, they are red and ripe and ready to pick. Picking the fruit is a challenge given the spines and glochids, the tiny hair-like spines at the base of each spine cluster. We used to pick the fruit with long tongs and then try to burn off the spines in an open flame. Later, we found out that burning the spines was not necessary, as long as you were very careful not to touch any part of the plant with your skin. We then would put the ripe fruit in a steam juicer with a cloth liner to catch the spines, and juice the pods. From a bucket of fruit, easily picked in a few minutes in the desert, we could get quarts of dark red juice to use for jelly and syrup.

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