HI-DESERT TEST KITCHEN COOKING UP PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS TONIGHT

HI-DESERT TEST KITCHEN COOKING UP PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS TONIGHT

Summer in the Hi-Desert comes with challenges and treats. One such treat often overlooked is the prickly pear. Reporter Mike Lipsitz has more about this month’s High Desert Test Kitchen featured native food…

The High Desert Test Kitchen is an informal dinner gathering which highlights a different native food each month. This month’s dinner is at 7 p.m., this Monday, July 17 at the Copper Mountain Mesa Community Center on Winters Road off Border in North Joshua Tree. The flat, fleshy pads of prickly pear cacti are called nopales. They make excellent additions to smoothies and salsa, and can even go on the grill. The plump oval fruits that grow atop the nopales are called tunas or prickly pears. Slightly sweet, juicy, and magenta when ripe, the pulp from prickly pears can be simmered into a jam, churned with ice cream, pureed into popsicles, or eaten raw. There’s no shortage of possibilities when it comes to this easy-to-identify native food. The High Desert Test Kitchen inevitably ignites debate over the relationship of man to nature. Changing minds? Maybe. Changing taste buds? Most probably.

If you plan to harvest your own be careful to prevent injury from the microscopic hairs that grow on the tunas. For information on collecting and safely processing prickly pears and nopales, go to desertharvesters.org/native-plant-food-guides-the-desert-can-feed-you/prickly-pear/.

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