Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Class 'Season Finale
Labor Day Monday
September 1 , at 9:30am

      The last of our Summertime harvest season prickly pear classes will be Labor Day Monday, September 1, starting at 9:30 am from the Visitor Center lobby. There's no additional fee to attend Prickly Pear classes at BTA, and no pre-registration required - the informal outdoor workshop is included with daily admission of $10, or free if you're among our annual members -- or have a 2014 Arizona State Parks pass. Author Jean Groen and Arizona State Parks 'Volunteer of the Year' Robert Lewis are the special guest presenters -- each August they rise to the challenge of culinary uses for prickly pear cacti pads and fruit. Monday morning they will demonstrate how to harvest and de-spine, process and prepare dishes that incorporate healthy native cacti. Best part of all? Jean shares a few unique menu items at a sampling session when the informal outdoor class ends around 10:30am, predicting "chilled nopalito soup, also a salsa with nopales and corn, and prickly pear lemonade -- and sausages in prickly pear BBQ sauce.
Preview this event on YouTube - Mike Rolfe posted a short feature about the Arboretum's How To Juice PricklyPear Cactus Fruit Class at

    Drive up early, check out the gardens, and get breakfast or lunch in our neighboring town of Superior at the The Buckboard Cafe, nearest of all to the Arboretum.
More than 2,000 Arizonans have graduated from our popular and informal How-To-Juice-A-Prickly-Pear classes over the past few years, learning how to harvest these fruits without your hands becoming a virtual porcupine of painful cactus spines and glochids.. All ages are welcome -- and at the conclusion of the one-hour class we'll serve Prickly Pear Cactus fruit snacks . And if you just can't get enough Prickly Pear cuisine, make plans to return in August 2015 for
the town of Superior's Second Annual Prickly Pear Festival
       Classes begin at 9:30 am and are included with daily admission of $10. The informal one-hour workshop teaches participants proven ways to pick, prepare, process and preserve these juicy, seasonal fruits of the Sonoran Desert -- and with prickly pear snacks shared when the class ends. Apache Junction author Jean Groen wrote Foods of the Superstitions; she is seen in the photo above -- and each summer Jean explains how to pick, juice, and prepare opuntia fruits -- also describing cactus fruit and their nutritional value before we stroll onto the grounds to demonstrate how to harvest enough pears for a batch of juice or jelly. Back at the Visitor Center participants will learn techniques to remove most of the spines, as well as how to extract the subtle, watermelony-tasting juice from these forbidding fruits. Jean will also discuss prickly pear jelly and other recipes from her book. Rvisit this page in July 2015 to see the schedule of classes featuring Chef Eric & Terri Naddy of Tall Order Catering -- Arboretum annual members who also volunteer their time offering cactus culinary presentations

        Cactus fruits begin to ripen during July and continue through August. Labor Day marks the end of the season and fruits will be harder to find during September. They're simple enough to harvest, in fact countertop juicers work quite well once the fruits are de-spined. Have you sipped a prickly pear margarita or sampled the sweet cactus candy made by Tucson-based Cheri's Desert Harvest? Then you already know there's nothing which quite compares to the magenta color and hard-to-describe taste of juice from the prickly pear cacti fruits common at this elevation, and ripe during August.

        The image at right above shows Arizona State Parks Volunteer Robert Lewis demonstrating the juicing process. Prickly pears are an excellent choice as a landscape plant throughout Maricopa, Pinal, Gila and Pima Counties, and they thrive throughout the Sonoran Desert. Please keep in mind that a permit is required to harvest prickly pear fruit, or any other materials, from public lands, and you must always seek permission before picking fruit from plants that aren't on your own property. If you're interested in recipes using prickly pear juice we suggest "Even Cowboys Like Prickly Pear" by Jean Groen, and also "The Prickly Pear Cookbook" and also "American Indian Cooking" by Carolyn Niethammer or "Gathering the Desert" by Gary Paul Nabhan. These are available in our bookstore, where you'll also find pure condensed prickly pear syrup made by Cheri's Desert Harvest of Tucson.

       Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located 55 miles due East of Phoenix via highways 60, right near milepost #223 as you approach the historic copper mining town of Superior. For other directions or details call 520.689.2811