Good day again folks.  Today I want to start discussing what to do with natures bounty.  Even in the worst drought West Texas has seen in recorded history, there is still a bounty to be had.  So, today I want to talk about cactus fruits, also called Tunas in Spanglish.  This is a cactus fruit and they are edible and contain a good supply of water.   I want to caution people, these things are loaded with spines that are thinner  then a human hair, almost invisible and are barbed like a fish hook.  You will, no matter what precautions you take, get these in your hands, and they hurt.  You cannot see them to remove them, so you just have to wait until your body dissolves them.


Pick your fruits.  I suggest a pair of pliers.  Get the fruits that are the biggest, and the plumpest, and taking them is easy to do.  Most plants will have3 30-40 fruits and in the desert there are billions of plants.   The fruits come due usually around the end of July.


I suggest putting the fruits in a plastic container for storage, and then chilling them overnight in the fridge for easier processing.  After they are chilled, do not touch them, but put them in a few layers of paper towels and rub them to remove as many of the microscopic needles as possible.


Cut the ends off the fruits, peel them and cut them in half.  The easy part is now done. 


You will now notice that each half is full of rock hard seeds and a slimy, aloe vera type substance.  This has to be scooped out and washed.  These seeds are VERY hard.  This part is the challenge.  The fruits are slimy and hard to hold.  You can use a spoon or use your thumb to get all of the seeds out.  Then rinse them well.  After you are sure there are no seeds, slice them into pieces and put them in a bowl of sugar water that contains a little lime or lemon. 


You are now ready to use your cactus fruits.  I, of course, dehydrated mine and will put them in a vac seal bag, but you can make pies, jellies, or fruit topping with yours.  I will state, that you yield very little from a whole lot of fruits, and the stickers in your hands will remain irritating for a couple of days, but they do taste good, and will sustain a person if needed.

Rusty Shakelford.