Monday, December 19, 2011

Obsession: Cactus Pears

As we speak, the large nopales cactus in my garden is in her full fruiting cycle. Since the beginning of November, she has been producing pounds and pounds of cactus pears.
Could any fruit be more beautiful and treacherous? They are so exquisite with their bright magenta exterior and the lucious, sweet , intoxicating fruit inside, but should one dare to just grab one off the plant, you'll pay a terribly painful price.
the pears are covered in minute, nearly invisible glochids or needles, that imbed in your skin and are nearly impossible to remove. So should one want to partake, here is my advice...I wear TWO layers of gloves, the old rubber kitchen gloves work great and under them I wear a thinner latex kind. When holding the fruit, you can grab it on the top and bottom where there are no needles. When peeling and cutting make sure to wash your cutting board and knives right after or they'll be covered in the needles as well.

Now for the yummy part... this last Thanksgiving I made a wonderful cranberry sauce with them. I added equal amounts of diced cactus pear to my cranberries, adding a wee bit of sugar, the zest of two oranges, and a couple of cups of pure pomegranate juice. A squeeze of half a lime. The color and texure was spectacular and the flavor complex and full bodied. Not your usual cranberry sauce, but a delightful variation that is surprising and original. I also put up several jars and gave them as gifts, more jewels for your collection! The added benefit of this fruit is it has wonderful anti inflammatory properties so while the cold days of winter are aggravating your arthritic spots, this is a magical and helpful support for healing.

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