Prickly Pear Harvest – A Desert Treat
Every year, at the tail end of Summer, I’m able to gather a small group together to go harvest Prickly pear fruit at the Eastern edge of the valley. Off of some scraggly dirt roads, you can find more than enough, ripe for the picking, provided you get there before August is through, which is when they animals are through with fruit as well. It’s still extremely hot and sunny but, if you’re quick, it takes about an hour to get a few baskets full.
Though extremely seedy, the fruit are vibrant, tangy, and earthy, and significantly more complex than the kind you’ll find at your local Ranch market. You’ll only end up eating a few handfuls fresh, with yogurt for breakfast, or popped into a smoothie, which I’ll make for the family for breakfast. The rest can easily for frozen whole, or preferably, peeled, juiced, and frozen in liquid form for nearly anything for the rest of the year -- vinaigrettes and sauces for savory dishes or juice for lemonade and cocktails.
At St. Francis, our bartender, Titus, put together a cocktail using the juice along with gin, fresno chiles, lemon juice, and vanilla liqueur. No matter what you combine with it, you get the signature tartness and beautiful fuchsia color.