Josh and I have always been fascinated by the idea of eating the fruit of native desert plants, particularly cactus. So when we saw that we had quite a crop of barrel cactus with fruit growing in our yard, we looked up when we could pick them, how to pick them, and how to eat them.

Fortunately, barrel cactus fruit does not have any prickly parts like the prickly pear cactus fruit does. Josh looked up when he could pick the barrel cactus fruit and found that it goes ripe in November and can stay on the cactus until April without rotting. Last week, Josh came in from picking a bowlful of the fruit, not all of them, since we aren’t sure yet if we are even going to like the taste! They are supposed to be very sour, like lemons!

Josh was inspired by the Forager Chef’s posts on Facebook about the barrel cactus fruit and how he used them in a few recipes.

Some of his ideas: Desert Stew and Cactus Seed Flatbread as well as a very informative post about barrel cactus fruit in general.

Josh made a quick video about how to slice and de-seed barrel cactus fruit, but I will also post pictures of the process here if you’re like me and don’t really like to watch videos.

First, slice off the top with the dried flower. We didn’t use that part for anything, but Josh did throw those bits into the compost pile.

After slicing off the flower, slice off the bottom of the fruit. The bottom part you can use if it seems to be in good shape.

Insider the fruit will be a lot of tiny black seeds. Those need to be taken out before deyhdrating, but don’t throw them away! Those can be dried as well and used a little bit like sesame seeds.

Josh used the handle end of a small spoon to scoop the seeds out onto a baking sheet. We set the seeds aside on the baking sheet to dry, just on the counter, for a few days.

You don’t have to worry about getting every single seed out but get out as many of them as you can.

After scooping out most of the seeds, we washed the remaining seeds out with water. Warning: barrel cactus fruit are very slimy! Which makes the fruit a little slippery while working with it.

Now these barrel cactus fruit are ready for slicing. For some reason, I don’t have pictures of slicing the fruit into rings, but the next picture does show the slices of fruit when in the dehydrator.

Josh dehydrated the rings for 6 hours at 135 degrees F. He did check the racks at 3 hours and found that some of the thinner/smaller rings had finished dehydrating by then. So he removed them and put them in a mason jar.

The bowl of barrel cactus fruit Josh brought in from the yard made about 2 cups of dried barrel cactus fruit. We are planning to use it in a pork stew of some kind and I would like to try it with some seafood, though I know that a desert fruit would not really go with fish!

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. A_Boleyn

    Interesting fruit. I’ve never seen it used before. Love how you’re foraging locally for native foods.

    S:The ‘LIKE’ part of the page at the bottom is not fully loading so I can’t click on it. Bummer.

    1. Lynn-Marie

      I’ve noticed that the “like” option doesn’t seem to be working. I’ll look at that. Thank you for letting us know!

      Josh’s next foraging opportunity will hopefully be cholla buds. 😊 he really wants to try saguaro fruit but those won’t be until June or July I think.

      1. A_Boleyn

        Fascinating. Well done to you. 🙂

        1. Lynn-Marie

          I can’t seem to see the “like” option either on the post. I’m working on it now, but haven’t had luck so far figuring out why it isn’t showing up.

          I forgot another native fruit we like: prickly pear fruit! Josh wants to make jelly with it. And we have a whole hedge of prickly pear in our yard.

          1. Lynn-Marie

            The “like” button for posts and comments should be working now! Thank you so much, Anne, for letting me know about the problem! So if you didn’t like us before, please like us now if you can. 🙂

  2. Alan Bergo

    You’ll love them–just make sure to cook them through until they’re tender. Stew is still my favorite after collecting them for a few years now, but the woman who showed me the fruit also made a jam, which is probably next on my list.

    1. Lynn-Marie

      We made as close as we could to your stew (sadly, we weren’t able to use all native ingredients) and it was delicious! A barrel cactus fruit jam sounds intriguing. I didn’t have a chance to make the flatbread with barrel cactus seeds yet but plan to soon. Thank you so much for visiting our site and commenting!

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