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Prickly Pear, anyone here eat it?  RSS feed

 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Prickley Pear grows well in my climate and I have seen tons of recipes for it but I don't know anyone who actually eats it.

Anyone here tried it?  I am looking for a plant other than fruit or nut that would provide a good 'filler' food - kind of like potatoes but I wouldn't have to plant it every year. 

I can't find anyone here who will let me harvest enough of thier plant to cook but I might get someone to give me a start to plant.
 
Steven Baxter
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South Carolina wrote:
Prickley Pear grows well in my climate and I have seen tons of recipes for it but I don't know anyone who actually eats it.

Anyone here tried it?  I am looking for a plant other than fruit or nut that would provide a good 'filler' food - kind of like potatoes but I wouldn't have to plant it every year. 

I can't find anyone here who will let me harvest enough of thier plant to cook but I might get someone to give me a start to plant.


They sell it at some spanish/mexican markets around here in its whole fresh form, would you have any where you live? It also grows wild, not sure if it would where you are. I ate some but it was only once a long time ago, forgot how it was.
 
Marissa Little
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I've cooked it a few times myself and had it at restaurants tons of times, especially in Mexico.  I hate dealing with it in the kitchen.  The little spines get stuck in your hands and are impossible to fish out!  Every year (expect this one because of the drought), we make 'tuna' jelly from the fruits.  That's the spanish name for the fruits and it's always stuck in the household and it's fun to scare the normals by offering them tuna jelly.

The pads have a slightly slimey taste and texture.  I would hardly consider it a filler food like potatoes.  In fact, I rarely replant potatoes.  They come up year after year in the same spot because I never get all the spuds out.  That would be a much better option for me...
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Thanks for the info.  I would love it if my potatoes would reseed but I'm lucky to get all of my harvest each year - the voles have completely cleaned me out more than once.

I LOVE your reference to the 'normals' - I am stealing that term and will begin using it immediately!
 
Jonathan Byron
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Most Mexican groceries also sell jars of the cactus where the pads that have been de-spiked, sliced, and pickled in salt and vinegar. These are very convenient, although they are really loaded with salt - easy to get 100% or more of the daily sodium from a small serving. The flavor is very nice, in my opinion, the texture is mucilagenous or gelatinous.

Compared to potatoes, prickly pear pads have about half the calories per ounce, and they are somewhat lower in terms of protein:carb.  But they are a decent food source that is very drought tolerant and low maintenance.  

They make a good feed for cattle, sheep and goats ... most cattle and sheep need to have the spines burned off with a flame-thrower, but goats can eat some straight. There are 'spineless' types, but those need more protection than the wild types - animals will devour them if they have access.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Jeanine Gurley wrote:
I am looking for a plant other than fruit or nut that would provide a good 'filler' food


What about Jerusalem Artichokes?

Sweet potatoes may also perennialize in your climate.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I really need to find some Jerusalem Artichokes to try - I have been reading a lot about them.  I'll need to eat some first though.

Sweet Potatoes - well, I am the sweet potato LOSER.  I grow them every year and every year the voles get them and/or I just grow vines.  This year I have them growing in a raised bed with chicken wire under the bed - I won't know until the end of the season if I have actual potatoes or not.  In the meantime that bed is also growing bell peppers, parsley, and a volunteer tomato so all is not lost if I just have vines.  I did also start pinching the green tips and sauteeing them in my eggs - that was pretty good.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Another one to try is Hardy Yam. 

 
Steven Baxter
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cassava, i think the plant has a few uses!
 
brett watson
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Location: Northern California Zone 8b
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I've had the fruit straight and jellied. They were both excellent.
I have had the pad diced and fried with scrambled eggs and a green hot sauce (mouth is currently watering).
AND through the creative machinations of my friend I have drank the fruit distilled and was lucky enough to come away with just a few less taste buds ... I was sure I was gonna go blind. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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I've made delicious cobbler with a mixture of prickly pear fruit and apples.  I find the pads too difficult to prepare to eat them often.  Also my husband really hates slimey food and nopales are at least as slimey as okra.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Pick the cactus leaves before they mature - when the spines are just harmless green nubs.  Young leaves can be eaten raw.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The spines aren't the trouble, I grow the "spineless" kind - it's the "glochids" - the little hairs that get everywhere.  They can be scrubbed off with a kitchen scrubby, but I still find it difficult to handle the pads while scrubbing.  Maybe heavy rubber gloves might work...
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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I still haven't tasted prickly pear but have planted it anyway.  My neighbor tells me it will grow quickly so I am looking forward to at least having spring photos.

He have me 6 good pieces and I planted them in different areas - hopefully at least one will take off and become a spectacular plant.
 
                                
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Ok, I used to live in the desert.  Cactus pads (nopales, nopalitos) are edible indeed, but a pain to harvest, with or without the thorns.  Its a LOT easier to buy the jarred stuff in Mexican groceries and rinse it well.  Quite tasty as a cold salad with red bell pepper slices, a bit of jicama, and plenty of lime juice and chile, which is a general version of how I usually eat it for quick and easy, interesting food.  The mucilage is an anti-diabetic starch substance too.
If you are stalwart and harvesting own, be sure to use SMALL pads, big ones are inedibly tough.  Use leather gloves AND tongs, place them in bucket, do not touch them.  Fire up a gas torch and burn off all the glochids and/or spines.  Then you can safely handle them and prepare variously, boiled or roasted.  They are often pickled as the sour helps with the mucilaginous nature. 
Have fun.  Fruits are picked similarly, just made into different things, much tastier overall.
 
Triple Kocurek
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[font=Verdana]Cactus pads (nopales, nopalitos) are edible indeed, but a pain to harvest, with or without the thorns. [/font]

It's easier and tastier to pic them before the thorns have hardened but if the thorns have hardened then a quick blast with a "pear burner" (a propane torch made for cactus or weeds) will remove the thorns for harvesting.

For planting in the spring take healthy petals (with the thorns) and bury them 1/2 way upright in loose sandy soil and water lightly once a week as needed till new growth starts.
 
Marissa Little
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
The spines aren't the trouble, I grow the "spineless" kind - it's the "glochids" - the little hairs that get everywhere.  They can be scrubbed off with a kitchen scrubby, but I still find it difficult to handle the pads while scrubbing.  Maybe heavy rubber gloves might work...


Glochids!  I never knew what those were called - just always said "the little spines". 
 
Gail Gardner
Posts: 114
Location: SE Oklahoma
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Jeanine Gurley Jacildone wrote:Prickley Pear grows well in my climate and I have seen tons of recipes for it but I don't know anyone who actually eats it.

Anyone here tried it?


I have eaten pounds of it and love it. It may be an acquired taste, though, as I see others on permies talking about avoiding eating the seeds. The best fruit grows under trees in excellent soil. The fruit gets really large and so sweet.
 
Gail Gardner
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Location: SE Oklahoma
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Marissa Little wrote:
H Ludi Tyler wrote:the little hairs that get everywhere.  They can be scrubbed off with a kitchen scrubby, but I still find it difficult to handle the pads while scrubbing.  Maybe heavy rubber gloves might work...   


I pick and handle the fruit with kitchen tongs. Hold the fruit with tongs. Cut off the end where it attached to the plant with a large, sharp knife. Still holding it with tongs, split the fruit in half lengthwise. Hold each half with the tongs and scoop out the insides with a tablespoon.

Make sure you cut off enough on the end to get rid of most of the spines and only scoop in the middle where there aren't any. 
 
Wyatt Bottorff
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I have eaten it several times, in the middle of spreading it around home-gardens in Central Florida.
To me, cut and sauteed with just a little garlic and onion, it has a taste of green beans with Bragg's amino acids. Quite palatable, and the variety we have has the fewest glochids I've ever seen on them. Still needs a touch of scrubbing, but they clean up very fast.
 
wayne fajkus
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My plan this year is to juice the prickly pear fruit. I just walked the area. The fruit is there  but stilll green.

Mustang grapes are ripe. My brother just filled a 5 gallon bucket and can probably fill 5 more.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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These nopales were my supper on Friday.

nopales-eggs.jpg
[Thumbnail for nopales-eggs.jpg]
Nopales, scrambled eggs, fermented turnips, and carrots
 
Talasi Caslin
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Location: Western WA, Zone 8b
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I bought 2 prickly pears a while ago. The taste is unremarkable, but not particularly bad. The main problem is that before you use it, you have to remove all the seeds. I used the rest of the pear in a smoothie, but I seem to remember that I never used the second one. It seems like a lot of people here have a better idea of how to cook it than I did.
 
Gregg Carter
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Location: Alabama
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Yup, eaten it several times. The seeds and spines are a real pain. The spines quite literally. The best way I have found is have a small camp type fire and burn the spines off. Tastes a lot like a fig. Makes a good jam.
 
Burra Maluca
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This is how I prepare the fruit.  The seeds in mine are small enough to just ignore, which makes life a lot simpler.

 
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