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Savor the Southwest
 I produce a blog with two other remarkable women involved in the food of the Southwest. We discuss edible wild plants, foods that grow well here like citrus and olives, and flavors typical to the Southwest. Sometimes we'll highlight a new book by one of our colleagues. We take turns so there are three posts every month. The links will take you to the full blog.

How to Make Jam with Less Sugar

A breakfast set out at EXO Roast with Rusty's barrel cactus jam and toast made from heritage wheat by Barrio Bread.

 

I love to make jam and marmalade, but I cringe at the amount of sugar in most recipes. That sugar is necessary to make the product jell. But in researching my new book "A Desert Feast," I spoke to many professional chefs and learned some secrets. One, from Rusty the cook at EXO Roast, is how to make jam with less sugar. Here's what I learned

 

Call it Prickly Pear, Call it Nopal, It's time.

Fresh prickly pear pads are found in gardens in April and May. They are available year 'round in Mexican grocery stores. 

 

 

Prickly pear pads or nopales are a common vegetable in Mexico, as common as green beans in the U.S. They are a traditional food in Southern Arizona, brought by people who migrated from Mexio and eaten long before that for millenia by people who lived on the wild foods of the desert. Here are instructions for how to prepare the pads and several recipes to make nopales your new favorite vegetable.

 You can find many recipes for prickly pear pads and fruit in my Cooking the Wild Southwest, Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants and The The Prickly Pear Cookbook.

Yes, We Eat Cactus in Tucson

Cholla cactus buds, plump and ready for picking.

Those of us who live in the Sonoran Desert are odd ducks. Many of us eat and relish cactus, just like people living on this land have done for around 10,000 years. This fact is one of the many reasons Tucson was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. My blogmate, Tia Marta, wrote about how to gather and prepare cholla cactus buds. A small handful of buds (cleaned of thorns) supply as much calcium as a glass of milk.  You can read her post here.

 

 

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