Cactus Fruit Bread. For real.
I grew up in a household where two things happened in front of me. One was intensive gardening to produce food and flowers and the other was camping or going to the woods with my family on property we or another owned. Being able to harvest and prepare your own homegrown foods was interesting and rewarding.
In Oklahoma, more and more native plants like cactus are being used to landscape properties. They are hearty, and typically do not damage the environmental balance as they are from the area. The Nature Conservancy has promoted the use of native plants over propagated plants for a number of years for just that reason.
In summer, cactus have beautiful soft yellow, orange or purple flowers called Desert Roses. This time of year, the fruit, called Prickly Pears candles on the rim of the cactus and presents plentiful in deep purple oval fruits.
The cactus, of course has long needle like stickers, and nettles. Smaller light brown stickers. The Prickly Pear has only the nettles.
Picking the ripe fruit is best done with leather gloves. Some people use tongs. Take a bag, so you have some place to put your cache. Ripe fruit should roll easily off the plant, and be red inside the break. Some people say you need to wait until after a frost to harvest, as the fruit is juicier.
So, picked fruits need to be washed with a brush… Clean kitchen veg brush or sponge with a scrub feature does it.
The fruits are then baked at 300 for about an hour, which softens the fruit. When cool, remove seeds with a spoon, save them to compost or for wildlife. Then, scoop the flesh with a spoon from the skin. Keep any juice, strain if needed and add to the next step.
I then boiled the flesh with a chopped apple, sugar and about 1 c water, clove and cinnamon. Boil on a medium heat until very soft. When this was cooled, it made about a cup.
Process it in a blender to make an apple sauce like concoction.
This can be substituted in quick bread recipes.
350 oven 3 small loaf pans sprayed with cooking oil spray and lightly floured.
In one bowl:
Cream 1/3c shortening
with 2/3 c white sugar for about 5 min.
Add 2 eggs, blend 2 min more.
In a second bowl
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp nutmeg freshly grated
1Tbsp grated orange rind
In a third, larger bowl
add a serving spoon full of the creamed mixturer, one of the flour mixture and one of the fruit and blend.
Add until all incorporated.
I cooked this in 3 mini loaf pans for about 20-30 with good results.
This is a moist unique bread that is fun to make and is well received. I often add rolled oats 1/4 c and chopped walnuts to this recipe. As with Strawberry Bread or Red Velvet Cake, colorboosting with food coloring is probably not a problem. It is also probably possible to make a glaze of the Prickly Pear Fruit Juice, with 3 parts confectioners sugar and one part juice, which would retain the wow factor. Many people make jelly with these fruits and also granita is popular. In Mexico, the juice is extracted and drunk straight like grape juice.