Oh Yeah! A series of good times! Me and my Foraging Accomplice! My name's Donna and my all around Accomplice is Terri!
Yes, one of those dog day afternoons and what we thought was a wrong turn in the Semi-Trailer…became a most glorious discovery of lovely Prickly Pear Cactus…wonderful patches of these cacti! Also surrounded by Mesquite trees in flower and Palo Verde trees…all in beautiful South Texas!
Off we go…the A.C. on for our beloved and quirky critters in the truck!
We scan the field of cacti from the road and venture in carefully. A Rattler warns us off. Not too loud. Just a warning rattle. We retreat.
Off we go to what we think is a safe vicinity away…down the road. Maybe we just got lucky!
We harvested 4 pads from the Prickly Pear. From what I’ve read…new pads are a good choice. Tender, cactus spines are less mature. I’ve also heard larger pads can be quite tasty too. We used tongs and gloves and watched out for rattlers.
I looked up how to prepare Nopales/Prickly Pear cactus and a lot of people recommend cutting into strips and boiling for 5 minutes. Then rinse with cold water.
Oh….but wait! Aren’t I forgetting something???
The cactus spines….yep…don’t want those in your mouth…most people don’t anyway. 🙂
If you are dexterous…which I’m not really…and space on the truck can be an issue…
Some people slice all the spines off with a knife…at just the right angle.
I’ve also read that using the end of a vegetable peeler works well for digging out each spine.
I opted for the latter method…I don’t usually mind if things take time and I could carefully remove each cluster of spines….and dispose of them in a box as I go. I’m a bit of a safety susan that way but also…cactus spines hurt!
Also, another tip is to just cut spines off the edges…they tend to bunch up on the sides.
Be careful also of the little glochid cactus spines are hair thin but seem to find away of sticking into you for weeks! Burn them off the whole surface of the cactus pad with a flame.
As my friend Rachel told me…the cowboys and cowgirls used to toss the Nopales into the fire and charred the cactus spines and glochids off. That way their horses and cattle could eat them…and probably the cowpokes too!
Well, I’ve read that all prickly pear are edible but look it up for yourself! That’s never a bad idea.
Some things I found out about Nopales/Prickly Pear is that this cactus is excellent for balancing blood sugar…helping people with blood sugar issues.
And, the cactus fruit…or Tunas are very high in anti-inflammatory properties!
So the nopales dish was a salsa I made from sliced and chopped nopales boiled in salted water for 5 minutes. Rinsed with cool water and drained. I made the salsa wi5th what I had on hand including nuts, berries and coconut oil. I even tossed a few blackberries that were in season! We scarfed it up! Yumm!
Lots of Nopales recipes are online. Like traditional Mexican dishes Nopales with eggs.
One of my adventures will be to dry the Nopales…and make Nopales flour. Yes, my obsession with flour continues… 🙂
And, finally what we both looked like after eating Nopales! Ha ha ha … let the fun begin!
And hey, the fun continues! Check out my post on Prickly pear fruit!