Plantidote of the Day 2012-08-16
Prickly pear cactus pads (nopales) with baby pad (nopalito)
If the first thing you think when you see a prickly pear cactus isn't "Yum!", then you probably haven't eaten one. Pretend the spines aren't there, and think of the pads as vegetables, suitable for salads, stuffing, and salsa. They have a mild, but oddly interesting flavor and some impressive health benefits (blood sugar management and lowering bad, LDL cholesterol, for example).
I can't tell you much about prickly pear fruit, because I've never had it. But here's a bit of information on how to use the fruit juice in cocktails and vinaigrettes. Best of all, if you're in Zones 8 through 11, you can grow prickly pears. They're extremely drought tolerant, very low maintenance, and can even survive cold snaps. They're also ridiculously easy to propagate. See that baby pad in the photo? Snap it off, stick it in the ground, and just like that, you've got yourself a whole new cactus!
Readers, please send twig (firstname.lastname@example.org) images and stories for the ongoing Plantidote of the Day series. In exchange, you'll win undying fame in the form of a hat tip! Plants growing in your garden, your house, or neighbor's yard, plants from the forest or farmers' market, plants you preserved, plants you prepared (wine; cider; tea; dried beans), plants you harvested (grains; chantrelles), plants you picked (flowers), plants you dried (herbs), plants you covet or hope to grow someday. Herbal remedies, propagation tips, new varieties, etc.. And if you can, include some solid detail about the plant, too -- a story, the genus and species, or where you got the seeds, or the recipe, or your grandmother gave it to you. Or challenge us with a "Name That Plant" mystery entry ... And please feel free to add corrections and additional information in the csomments.
Click on the image for the full-size version. Click here to see the entire series.