Thanks, Beth, for the photos and copy: the “sap” from gently frying sliced “nopales” performs much like that of okra’s used to thicken most any kind of stew such as gumbo. I grew up dodging prickly pear as a Central Florida barefoot boy slightly more than a week ago. The spines, I always figured, were just a small price to pay.
An early morning walk at a nearby park reminded me of two things. First, that it is August and everything is pretty much dry and brown as it usually is by this time of summer. The scenery along the trails is rather blah except for the occasional color of prickly pear fruit.
Fruit – with some kind of bug on it! These colorful bulbs gave me my second reminder: the usefulness of the prickly pear cactus. Long before the Europeans came to the Americas Native Americans were well accquainted with the many varieties of prickly pear and the usefulness of the fruit and the paddle like leaves known as nopales.
The paddles and fruit are edible and are commonly used to make a variety of dishes as well as soups, beverages, jelly, and candy. Obviously, the small spines must be removed first (which is not easy!). The small…
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