Insights and Healing with Patrick Moore


Saguaro Harvest will be a Good One!
May 30, 2018, 12:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Judging from the profuse flowering of saguaro cactus in the city limits of Tucson, I am predicting a great harvest of saguaro fruits by June 15. You don’t need a pole to get the best fruits, you simply look around the bottom of saguaros. When to look? Look up at the tops of the Saguaros. Right now you see white flowers open, or flowers that have closed and look like knobs. When you see what looks like open red flowers, that look like Stargazer Lillies, those are not flowers.. Those are fruits! 

Saguaro Two Perfect fruits like Lillies

This photo shows two perfect saguaro fruits just as I found them lying on the ground near the base of the tall cactus. What look like flower petals, are the fruit skin. In the hot sun, the fruit opens and peels itself. The inner fruit that starts out juicy and wet, dehydrates during the day. Often just the dried fruit falls out of the peel. Often you find perfect non-messy soft but not juicy sweet fruits on the ground. Since they have partially dehydrated they do not pick up dirt, maybe a little dirt but you can blow them off and pop them in your mouth. Yum! This is my favorite fruit!!

The fruit peel may have a few stickers but I am very sensitive to stickers and I handle the fruit peels with my bare hands. Once the fruit has opened, the inner fruit has no stickers and you can eat it without fear of stickers in your mouth. (UNlike “prickly pear” fruit. Prickly Pear are small bushy cacti with flat pancake shapes that look like hands. Prickly pear are usually about the height of your knee or hip. Saguaro are usually twenty feet tall, like a light pole, sometimes with arms, sometimes without).

I have twice attended a saguaro harvesting class, where we were shown how to pull down saguaro fruits with a pole. I have done it that way myself but gave it up for two reasons. 1) the fruits that have fallen on the ground are so much more abundant that there is no need to go through all the work. You can get more fruits per hour just foraging on the ground. 2) the ones on the ground are dry, and the ones you push off the cactus twenty feet in the air are wet. Once they fall, the wet ones gather dirt and gravel.  Difficult to eat today, difficult to separate out the dirt and gravel if you want to eat raw fruits for the next few weeks.

Sometimes the fruit falls and hits a branch of a palo verde tree, and hangs there at the level of your eye or hand. You don’t even need to bend over, the fruit is offered for you there just perfect for your reach! How generous these tall beings are!

Last year I posted a plate full of dried saguaro, I will find that photo and post it again. In the middle of the season I filled up a 2-quart plastic container with mostly dry saguaro fruit in about two hours.

The season ends when the rains begin, maybe around July 3.

Saguaro fruit is low-glycemic sugar so it is healthier for people watching their sugar. That means it is metabolized slower than some other fruits. That is, unless you cook it. Once you boil saguaro fruit down to jelly, then the sugar is just as potent as other sugars. I feel cooking spoils the flavor of saguaro. They taste so good raw!! As the fruit has been hanging out on the peel all day, sometimes it ferments a little which gives it a sweet tang, ah!

It is illegal to harvest saguaro fruit in Saguaro National Park and many other places. It is against the policies to pick any fruits at the Desert Museum. Be sure to check and ask permission before harvesting. That said, since there has been so much flowering in local Tucson homes, you might have a bounty of fruits in your own yard, or your neighbor’s yard. My neighbor has given me permission to harvest her saguaro fruits. I have counted over a hundred blossoms on her several saguaros so I am drooling!

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