The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Hispanic fruit

Hispanic produce

Mark and I are enjoying our blogging vacation...and yet, I couldn't resist sharing some intriguing, store-bought fruits with you!

Cactus fruits

We got to explore a Hispanic grocery store on Black Friday, and I of course gravitated directly toward the produce department. I didn't try any of the cactus leaves that were available in several different forms, but I did sample one of three kinds of cactus fruits.

After some research at home, I'm pretty sure all three of the fruits pictured above are from prickly pear cacti, which grow wild in Mexico but also in plantations. There are hundreds of varieties out there, so even though I wasn't a big fan of the one I tasted (the red one in the middle), I clearly need to try this fruit again. The seeds are large and I spat them out, not knowing they were edible. The taste of the one I ate (perhaps a cordana?) was very similar to that of an unripe banana.


Much tastier, in my opinion, were the papayas. I was spoiled on papayas by eating them for four months in Costa Rica, and I've turned up my nose at grocery-store papayas ever since. But the ones in the Hispanic grocery were big and delicious (although my fellow taste testers were less impressed, suggesting papaya may be an acquired taste).

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a Black Friday as inspiring as ours!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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prickly pear grows all over the desert southwest, too, and is a common part of cuisine around here. you can shred & pickle the pads (nopalitos) and they are often sold jarred in grocery stores, or shred & eat fresh in salad. to get the spines off, soak them, and then use tongs to slip the food from the skin. the fruit (tuna) is usually processed into jelly, syrup, or juice (agua fresca) before being eaten. the seeds are not edible, though i don't think that swallowing one would hurt you, but it'll break your teeth if you try to chew it. ;) i would reccomend soaking them to loosen the skin and then slipping the skins off with tongs, then juicing. from there, it makes a great margarita mixer. ;) or syrup! with a boatload of pectin, you can make jelly from it.
Comment by yarrow Tue Nov 27 19:03:05 2018
I hope you don't stop posting on this blog! We really enjoy hearing about what you are doing. You are wonderfully interesting people.
Comment by Kirsten Tue Nov 27 23:23:40 2018
When we lived in central Florida one of my friends had a large cactus in her front yard. I made a fantastic (and gorgeous) jelly with prickly pear, apple and jalapeno. Just a little spicy. And a prickly pear margarita is one of my favorites.
Comment by Sue Tue Dec 4 15:25:14 2018
I hope you have a good holiday season. Blessings for 2019. You are missed.
Comment by hilary Thu Dec 13 10:18:39 2018
Happy winter solstice.
Comment by Kathleen olsen Mon Dec 24 23:31:53 2018

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