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Old 06-13-2010, 12:54 AM   #1
Teromous
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Default Prickly Pear

Ok, so I remember reading that some people made prickly pear wine a while back. I was at the gardening store today and a lady who worked there showed me where they were (they looked pretty small). I asked her if I could just eat the whole thing or if there was some special way to go about it. She looked at me like I just killed her babies and said, "we sell for decoration...not for consumption!" Haha...so I tried asking how I could get one and use it to make more and she claimed not to know much about it. Probably so I wouldn't grow them for harvesting haha...

So, how do you guys do it? If there's no wild place to get these, do you know a good way to grow enough to make wine from their juice? I could probably buy the juice online but I like to grow my own fruits and vegetables. I would like to try cactus.

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Old 06-14-2010, 11:47 PM   #2
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I guess nobody's ever eaten a prickly pear. Nevermind I found out that the cactus grows a fruit that looks like a red cactus ball that you can eat...

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Old 06-14-2010, 11:50 PM   #3
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They're seasonal, available in the fall. Try a Hispanic grocer, that's where we can get them.

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Old 06-15-2010, 12:38 AM   #4
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I've heard about people eating the actual prickly pair pad (leaf), but it takes a lot of time to cook it.

When I first started brewing, I made a prickly pair mead and picked 7.5 lbs of fruit. I think it took 3 or 4 larger cacti to get this. Here's the thread I started almost 2 years ago so you can see what the fruit looks like (if you didn't know). Personally I wouldn't recommend growing prickly pair. I think they're ugly, especially if not maintained.

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Old 06-15-2010, 11:56 AM   #5
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You'll need to remove the spines from the fruit, they're tiny, but you won't want them stuck in your mouth/lips/tongue/fingers. They grow in clumps all over the fruit. Some singe them off with a torch, or hold them over a burner on a gas stove with tongs. Some just cut out the clumps while wearing leather gloves.

The inside of the fruit is full of little seeds, fiber & thick, sticky juice. I've never taken a bite out of the fruit, but plenty of animals eat it, so I don't think there would be any ill effects, but I think it would be awfully chewy. As for the cactus pads, 've never eaten them, but they're used in some Mexican dishes. You should be able to find a jar of them in the mexican/ethnic section of the supermarket. In some areas, some grocery stores sell the raw cactus pads too. Regards, GF.

EDIT: You might be able to work out a deal for prickly pears with the guy who posted this: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/fruit-trade-181550/ Regards, GF.

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Old 06-19-2010, 02:25 AM   #6
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I've never fermented (or tasted a fermented) prickly pear, but they are relatively common where I am. The uses I'm familiar with are juice/nectar (with considerable sugar) or using it to make a jelly. You can eat them, but I don't really have a taste for it. Also, whatever you do, like gratus said, get the spines off!! The prickly pear, instead of larger spines, has small barbed spines that will lodge in flesh and cause a fairly unpleasant rash.

There is a spirit made of it - I'm not sure of the name, it might be colonche? In any case, this would indicate that a wine made of these would be tasty. I drink prickly pear nectar occasionally and ALWAYS have prickly pear jelly around. They grow like wildfire out here though, so we're used to them (Utah, you know).

You might also find them under the names cactus fig or nopales. I don't know if they'd grow in VA but if you went to a hispanic market (see frazier's comment) they'll probably have nopales.

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Old 06-19-2010, 03:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewMath View Post
You might also find them under the names cactus fig or nopales. I don't know if they'd grow in VA but if you went to a hispanic market (see frazier's comment) they'll probably have nopales.
FWIW "Nopales" refers to the pads themselves, which you can eat (and people do) - http://www.google.com/search?q=nopales&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
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Old 06-21-2010, 08:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gratus fermentatio View Post
EDIT: You might be able to work out a deal for prickly pears with the guy who posted this: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/fruit-trade-181550/ Regards, GF.
Teromous, I am getting together some sites to harvest these from and would be willing to work out a trade of some sort. See the thread mentioned above if you're interested.

Thanks,
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Old 06-26-2010, 08:20 PM   #9
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I ate them when I was a kid straight of the plant. My only memory was that they are very sweet and full of seeds. They do make a tasty Margarita or Mojito! My girlfirends brother is supposed to be collecting some for me so I can try a mead made with them.

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