Nopales Season

It’s nopales (the pads of the prickly pear cactus for you Yankees) season at the Homegrown Evolution compound. Our prickly pear has thrown off so many leaves that a neighbor dropped by last week to ask for some. We filled a bag for her and declined the dollar she offered us.

To cook up our nopales we use a simple recipe found in Delena Tull’s book, Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest. First scrape off the spines with a knife and chop a pad (one pad per person). Boil for 10 minutes. Next, put 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 2/3 cup cornmeal, 1 teaspoon chili powder, salt and pepper in a bag and shake with the boiled chopped nopales. Fry up in a pan and you’ve got a delicious side dish.

One of the charms of the prickly pear cactus, in addition to the food it provides, is its ability to survive drought and fend off pests. Sadly, it’s not as indestructible as it seems. The cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum was introduced into the Caribbean in the 1950s and has slowly worked its way to Florida and Mexico. It may soon reach Texas and California. The USDA is hoping to halt the spread by releasing sterile moths.

And speaking of Texas, for the next two weeks Homegrown Evolution will be in residence in Houston where it’s also nopales season. If we see any Cactoblastis cactorum, we’ll deal with them Texas style:

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6 Comments

  1. Don’t forget to harvest any ruby red prickly pears. Nothing quite like home made prickly pear jam. Never pluck them though before they’re red. Green ones don’t ripen to near the sweetness that they do on the cactus. Hey while you guys are over here, learn how to make soap. Sure you have to come to Austin but Austin SOAP people have classes ( or at least they used to ) on how to make your own soap at home. Combine over ripe prickly pears and some lye soap and you’ve got a yummy wake up call!

  2. Prickly pears grow well on the east coast too, and I’m looking forward to planting some.

    I’m planning to get some spineless ones from Plant Delights nursery- I don’t like it when my veggies fight back.

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