A cushy five star resort may not be the first place you think of as a foraging location, but with prickly pears standing bright and ripe, and no pesticides in sight, it’s hard not to dive into a field of cacti, carefully at least.
It might not beed saying, but do not grab prickly pear barehanded. The plant is prickly, the fruit is even more prickly. Those thorns may not be as vicious looking as the two inch thorns on the leaves themselves, but are instead tiny and nearly invisible. Use tongs to hold them. It is possible to find the fruit at Mexican grocery stores during the summer months an even then, clean as these fruit may be, do not grab them bare handed. Your palm will thank you. Even with the greatest of care, some of these tiny thorns will find their way into our hand, much like the one lodged in my finger even now.
Colonche, a prickly pear beverage, is made by fermenting the juice and pulp of the fruit, with a bit of peel thrown in, which aids in the fermentation process. The process is supposed to be simple. Press the pulp of the fruit, or puree in a blender. Boil lightly, throw in the peel, and allow to rest for one or two days, until fermented, and strain. The result should be a bright pink, sweet and slightly boozy drink.
Or not so much.
Day one showed no fermentation at all. Day two tasted at first awful. At second taste, like a flat raspberry lambic. Sweet, tart, and just so pink. The taste is so unbelievably pink, and so completely undrinkable. But once you end up starting a vinegar, might as well keep going with it.