Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I've been growing/eating/selling the thorn free, glochid free Opunita cochenillifera for years and love young pads raw, cooked or pickled. Last night I treated myself to that wonderful "Hamburger Deluxe' at that 'Momma's Kitchen' very close to here and the owner was there so I could ask about the HUGE thornless opuntia cactus beside the building that I've noticed for years when driving by. He said that many years ago he brought just one pad from Greece and that ever since he and his brother have propagated it all over. Even though he is Greek he calls the fruits "tuna" like Hispanics do, and said the flesh is yellow and very tasty. He cooks older pads on the grill...not sure if he peels them before or after......younger pads he cooks and eats whole. He LOVES the fruits and had heard of red ones so the next time I take Cracker to Picnic Island Beach I'm getting him pads of the super thorny kind I found there roadside (Opuntia ficus-indica) that makes huge flavorful red/magenta fruits that must be handled carefully and scrubbed under running water. When I look very closely I see very small numbers of tiny glochids....he mentioned just scrubbing them off. Even though it came from Greece I wonder if it might be one of Luther Burbank's many dozens of thornless ones Andy Firk has been collecting that he bred about a century ago as food for people and livestock. The ground was littered with pads knocked off by cars that pulled in too far. I'll choose a place out back to plant this one in a few days after the wound heals.

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