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Thursday, August 25, 2011


Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Gathering and Processing Classes
August 27 (Saturday), and again September 5 (Monday) at 10:30 a.m
Bryce Thompson Arboretum

Botanical author, Jean Groen, harvests hundreds of pounds of prickly pear cactus (opuntia) fruit each summer -- and shares her picking and juicing techniques during a one-hour class, teaching how to harvest these forbidding fruits without your hands becoming a virtual porcupine of painful cactus spines and glochids.   Jean is teaching at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum on August 27th and September 5th.

Jean will explain how to pick, juice, and prepare opuntia fruits, and teach oputia  cactus fruit and their nutritional value.  You can then stroll onto the grounds to demonstrate how to harvest enough pears for a batch of juice or jelly. Back at the Visitor Center participants will learn techniques to remove most of the spines, as well as how to extract the subtle, watermelony-tasting juice from these forbidding fruits.  Jean will also discuss prickly pear jelly and other recipes from her book. These cacti are of the Opuntia genus.  Afterwards you can enjoy a cool, refreshing, freshly-blended pitcher of prickly pear, banana, yoguty and pineapple juice smoothie!

Cactus fruits begin to ripen during July and continue through August.  Labor Day marks the end of the season and fruits will be harder to find during September.   They're simple enough to harvest, in fact commercial juicers work quite well once the fruits are de-spined.   There's nothing which quite compares to the magenta color and hard-to-describe taste of juice from the prickly pear cacti fruits common at this elevation, and ripe during August.

This same class repeats Labor Day Monday, September 5, in order to divide crowds due to the high level of interest; there is no pre-registration required. Jean Groen's prickly pear class (click on this link for info) is included with regular admission to the Arboretum of:   $9 for adults, or $4.50 for ages 5-12. Preview this event on YouTube. Arboretum volunteer Mike Rolfe posted a short video clip about the Summer, 2009

How To Juice Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Class
at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl976a9pvLE

JACQUE'S COMMENTS:  Preparedness is about learning to use every available plant and nutrient in your region.  How awesome to have fruit FREE in the Arizona deserts.  These classes are terrific for credits toward certification!

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