We’re down in Mexico visiting my in-laws right now and there are prickly pear cactuses EVERYWHERE!! Cactus is beautiful, edible and easy to grow. I took all of these cactus pics this morning in the little patch of plants my mother-in-law has growing by where they keep the cows.
One variety has big, fat pads and no prickly spines at all. It’s bred especially for it’s thick, juicy cactus hearts (the inside of the pad with the thick skin cut off). There are some varieties that produce lots of thin, succulent cactus pad shoots (just slice off the spines and cut ‘em up and cook them with some dried chile, onion and cilantro – so tender!) Some varieties make better fruit than others. Some are weedy and not good for much of anything.
Since the remedy to almost any ailment is a healthy, vege-filled diet, I believe it!! Even with all the fancy cultivated varieties of prickly pear available, the people around here still harvest young shoots from the wild cactuses when they’re in season, continuing a long culinary tradition from before the Aztecs even thought of building their lost city on our mountain (el Cerro de Culiacan).