Monday, February 18, 2013

Prickly Pear Cacti...

...is an important component of the Sonoran Desert which dominates the lower 2/3s of
Arizona. Javelina and cattle eat it; how this works is beyond me but from all the munched down pricklies the spiny plant is if not "the" favorite ranks right up there...OUCH! While javelina take rather dainty bites out of the paddles cattle often much down the entire plant! leaving little more than a few leftovers of plants often chest high and five six feet across.

Believe it or not but folks in the know convert the spiny paddles and fruits in all sorts of stuff: syrups, marmalades, jellies and jams, various cocktails, stuffed paddles (huaraches, nopales (Dave made some of these one evening in camp, best to ask Pam how they turned out), baked paddles (yeppers?), chili, compote,  candy, salsa, agave, fruit leather...you name it, apparently prickly pear works (at least for some, eh?).

The fruit shown here is left over (and probably not ripe for picking anymore) from last July. When fruits do ripen there are 5-6 fruits on each paddle. Mind-boggling amount when you consider some spots the plants are all but touching each other over many acres and there are dozens of paddles on each and every plant. Picking is so popular however one jelly and jam guru at a local farmer's market told me, "you plan to get yours anywhere near a road best get there early or plan to take a hike."

So there you have it...over and out...Chuck

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