Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Harvesting Prickley Pear Cactus Tunas!

Prickly pear cactus has been a staple of the Mexican and Central American diet for thousands of years. In parts of the US, it has been gaining popularity as an exotic gourmet and healthy addition to one's diet.

The Prickly Pear has two distinct edible sections: the pad of the cactus(nopal)which can be treated like a vegetable and the pear(tuna) which can be treated like a fruit. In the pictures above, you can see a closeup of a cactus pad along with flowering of cactus plant in the Spring of the year. Also shown is the harvesting of the "Tuna" fruit in August.

While I haven't tried the cactus pad, it has been great fun making jellies and syrup from the boiling and distilling of the "tuna fruit". The jellies are great in the morning on toast and the syrup can be used in a variety of ways, such as on pancakes, over ice cream or making a great prickly pear martini. Uhmm..so good!

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