Saguaro Fruit Harvest
June 23, 2010 by Sirena
When I was growing up, my family would always get a crate of prickly pear fruit in September. My mom and grandparents grew up eating it in southern Italy (we called it Fichi d’India), and this is still one of my favorite foods. I have heard that saguaro fruits taste similar, and I have long wanted to taste one. I have been reading up on native harvest and processing techniques and after seeing the first of the red, ripe, open saguaro fruits while driving around town, I woke up this morning with a mission: gather and process enough fruit to make Saguaro Fruit Roll-Ups in my food dehydrator. It is early in the season, but I have several patches that I can gather from in the next couple of weeks.
I used a hula-hoe to take the ripe fruits down from the lower arms, and processed them on the spot. I used a knife to split the fruits and a spoon to scoop out the juicy red interior. I left the husks so the interior faced the sky as in Tohono O’Odham tradition. (it is supposed to help bring the monsoon rains) Some of the fruits I ate on the spot, but most I put into a bucket that I took home. I had about 40-50 fruits at the end of this trip.
When I got home, I put the fruits in a pot with two cups of water and mushed up the pulp as I boiled it for 20 minutes, scraping and discarding the bright pink scum that formed on top.
I strained this through a cloth to trap any pulp, seeds, and anything else that had gotten into my bucket of saguaro fruit.There were a LOT of seeds, so I set them out for the birds in my yard.
I was left with a bright pink liquid that I put in my food dehydrator on a plastic tray that is used for making fruit roll-ups. About 4 hours later, I had bright, red, delicious, Saguaro Fruit Roll-Ups! If you have not tasted the fruit of the saguaro, the coming weeks are prime time for it.