Saguaro Fruit Harvest

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sirena
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Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by sirena » Jun 24 2010 9:44 am

When I was growing up, my family would always get a crate of prickly pear fruit in September. My mom and grandparents grew up eating it in southern Italy (we called it Fichi d'India), and this is still one of my favorite foods. I have heard that saguaro fruits taste similar, and I have long wanted to taste one. I have been reading up on native harvest and processing techniques and after seeing the first of the red, ripe, open saguaro fruits while driving around town, I woke up this morning with a mission: gather and process enough fruit to make Saguaro Fruit Roll-Ups in my food dehydrator. It is early in the season, but I have several patches that I can gather from in the next couple of weeks. I used a hula-hoe to take the ripe fruits down from the lower arms, and processed them on the spot. I used a knife to split the fruits and a spoon to scoop out the juicy red interior. I left the husks so the interior faced the sky as in Tohono O'Odham tradition. (it is supposed to help bring the monsoon rains) Some of the fruits I ate on the spot (they were super-tasty!), but most I put into a bucket that I took home. I had about 40-50 fruits at the end of this trip.

When I got home, I put the fruits in a pot with two cups of water and mushed up the pulp as I boiled it for 20 minutes, scraping and discarding the bright pink scum that formed on top. I strained this through a cloth to trap any pulp, seeds, and anything else that had gotten into my bucket of saguaro fruit. There were a LOT of seeds, so I set them out for the birds in my yard. (or you could save them and give them as novelty gifts to out-of-towners :D ) I was left with a bright pink liquid that I put in my food dehydrator on a plastic tray that is used for making fruit roll-ups. About 4 hours later, I had bright, red, delicious, Saguaro Fruit Roll-Ups! If you have not tasted the fruit of the saguaro, the coming weeks are prime time for it.

Link to photos: http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=11541&start=0
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http://www.desertsirena.wordpress.com

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joebartels
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by joebartels » Jun 24 2010 10:36 am

This is great! After five years, wow talk about a drought, we have a fourth entry into the Recipe Archive :)
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Al_HikesAZ
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Jun 24 2010 11:07 am

joe bartels wrote:This is great! After five years, wow talk about a drought, we have a fourth entry into the Recipe Archive :)
We have a Recipe Archive ???? 8)
Anybody can make a hike harder. The real skill comes in making the hike easier.
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joebartels
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by joebartels » Jun 24 2010 11:19 am

Well of course viewforum.php?f=23 this is HAZ
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Jeffshadows
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by Jeffshadows » Jun 24 2010 2:01 pm

joe bartels wrote: this is HAZ
Wrong:

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joebartels
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by joebartels » Jun 24 2010 2:18 pm

yes I'm still searching for the elusive Laconophiliapelli
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Dschur
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by Dschur » Jun 24 2010 4:15 pm

Although it is illegal for non-O’odham people to harvest saguaro fruits on public land (saguaros are a protected species,) anyone can harvest fruits from the cactus on their own land.
Dawn
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PLC92084
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by PLC92084 » Jun 24 2010 4:46 pm

Sirena:

Does one have to use a dehydrator? I've got a gazillion (more or less) prickly pear cactus on my rental property. I may actually have a use for them (besides an occasional source of napales). I've been thinking prickly pear jelly, or prickly pear something but darned if I could find a recipe on this site... Roll-ups would be awesome!

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The_Eagle
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by The_Eagle » Jun 24 2010 4:52 pm

@PLC92084
Here's one site w/ some ideas... I'm sure there are many more.

http://www.desertusa.com/magoct97/oct_pear.html
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joebartels
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by joebartels » Jun 24 2010 7:44 pm

@Dschur
Good to know.

Luckily anyone in the valley either has a saguaro in their yard or likely knows someone that does. Especially if you offered them a little of the finished product :)
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kevinweitzel75
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by kevinweitzel75 » Jun 24 2010 7:52 pm

Now I have a mission for Sat. am. Thank you.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the road less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
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sirena
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by sirena » Jun 24 2010 8:44 pm

@PLC92084
If it isn't humid out, you could dry the fruits outside- no need for a dehydrator, just something to keep the bugs off while you're waiting for them to dry. Or cook the fruits down to a syrup and add to lemonade (or margaritas :D )

@kevinweitzel75
Have fun!!
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MtnBart01
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by MtnBart01 » Jun 24 2010 10:44 pm

I like to extract the juice from prickly pear fruit and get some good tequila for prickly pear margaritas. :y: I'm pretty sure that my wife's secret margarita recipe with the addition of prickly pear juice is the best margarita north of the border. :D I haven't tried saguaro fruit, but use a similar extraction technique. I'll have to try it with some sauteed nopales from Johnlp's front yard.
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Jeffshadows
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by Jeffshadows » Jun 29 2010 8:13 am

PLC92084 wrote:Sirena:

Does one have to use a dehydrator? I've got a gazillion (more or less) prickly pear cactus on my rental property. I may actually have a use for them (besides an occasional source of napales). I've been thinking prickly pear jelly, or prickly pear something but darned if I could find a recipe on this site... Roll-ups would be awesome!
You can have a lot of fun with prickly pear fruits (Tunas.) Most anything you would normally do with grapes they will do just as well. They make a great snack along the trail (Just not on NPS land!) :)
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big_load
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by big_load » Jun 29 2010 9:50 am

jeffmacewen wrote:Does one have to use a dehydrator?
If you don't mind wasting some energy, a regular oven (or better yet, a convection oven) at low temperature will work, especially in AZ.

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sirena
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by sirena » Jul 03 2010 11:44 am

After a couple more rounds of harvesting and processing, I have these notes to add:

The best fruits are ones that have turned red, but not opened yet.

For harvesting, it is good to have a bucket to catch the fruits, and an additional container (with a lid) to scoop the pulp into.

If you get twigs and stones into your container of pulp, it's best to mash it up with a little water, then strain the juice out. If you can keep the pulp clean, you can dry it, seeds and all.

When dehydrating the fruits into fruit leather, it is best to add a little applesauce to the fruit to make it a better texture and less sticky.

Fruit leather made from strained, dehydrated juice (without seeds) or applesauce added will stick to everything. Best to package it in wax paper, not plastic wrap.

Saguaro juice makes a great addition to lemonade. (or a margarita! :D )
"May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view."
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joebartels
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Re: Saguaro Fruit Harvest

Post by joebartels » Jul 03 2010 11:50 am

Last week on South Mountain I crossed paths with a fallen fruit. Although it had been devoured by birds for the most part I got a whiff. Definitely a sweet inviting smell!
Hike Arizona it ROCKS!

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