Foragers in the Albuquerque community were given the opportunity to taste and learn about the prickly pear cactus, a native plant to Mexico and the surrounding southwest, with an interactive and hands-on experience at the Kiwanis Learning Center.
The fourth annual Prickly Pear Harvest allowed members of the community to pick, juice and taste the fresh fruit, all while learning about different prickly recipes and the health benefits of eating the local fruit.
Stations were set up to juice the fruit using a colander lined with a cotton cloth and wooden spoon. Other stations allowed participants to harvest the “meat” of the fruit by cutting and scooping out the seeds. There was also an opportunity to paint pictures using the juice.
“I’ve learned over the years that hands-on activities are the best way to learn about it instead of reading an article online, and we are really set up to provide that,” said Cirrelda Snider-Bryan,
The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science Garden Programs Coordinator.
Snider-Bryan said it is important for people to be educated on the history and benefits of eating a plant that is native to New Mexico.
“What is really amazing is that it is a native plant that provides a lot of food,” Snider-Bryan said. “Plants that don’t need a lot of water are very important for us to know about, and a lot of people have them in their yards or across the street.”
The fruit produced by the cactus — called the tuna— is technically a berry, known for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Since it is also known to lower blood sugar, the recommended dose of the fruit is two to four ounces a day.
Towards the end of the event, participants were encouraged to taste both the prickly pear juice and jam, with a pairing of chips, nuts and pickled vegetables.
Amanda Britt is the photo editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AmandaBritt__
Kristina Tanberg is a staff photographer at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @ktanberger11