Cactus fruit ripen to their best in Southern California at Christmas time. The fruit turns a lovely rich red color and, as Kitty pointed out, with the green of the cactus leaves, it’s starting to look a lot like Christmas in the wild places around here.
Cactus fruit, or prickly pear, is a delicious fruit to eat. But, not surprisingly, few have tried it due to the thorns on the skin. You would be surprised at how easy they are to clean.
When the fruit is ripe, the spines come off very easily. We pick a stick and rub the thorns off the fruit while it is still on the cactus plant. They come off at the lightest touch. When we have rubbed most of the thorns off, we pick it and continue rubbing off the little bumps where the spines were. Be sure to remove the thorns on the top and bottom of the fruit.
Wipe with a damp napkin to finish the cleaning process. Now, you can either peel the skin right off… or, if you are in the wild, you can use a stone to cut the fruit in half and use your teeth to scrape the yummy red fruit from the inside.
As you’ll see, cactus fruit is a favorite snack for us on November hikes. Harvesting a few is well worth the work. And, teaching our kids that food really does grow in wild places is a valuable lesson.
Blessings and magic,