Sour Prickly Pears (Xoconostle) in Napa!

Ever since my first taste of xoconostle in Guanajuato many years ago, I've been a little sad that I haven't been able to grow or find them here in California. I tried to grow them but it didn't work. I'd almost given up.


Then one day, the heavens decided to smile on me and introduced me to my new food friend, Noel, and with very little sleuthing, he discovered them here in Napa.


When Noel brought me my stash, I quickly fainted. When I came to, I ran from work and went home and tried to recreate a salsa my friends in Mexico had taught me. First the xoconostle were roasted in their skin. I may have gone too far but the charring never reached the flesh of the fruit. I also roasted garlic and briefly toasted some guajillo chiles, all on the comal. I reconstituted the chiles in water and then blended all of the ingredients with some salt in the blender, adding a little water to help the blades move.


It made a delicious salsa. The xoconostle adds a meaty fruitiness that can't be replicated without them. First job for the sauce was to doctor up a poached egg on beans. It worked!


3 Comments on Sour Prickly Pears (Xoconostle) in Napa!

  1. Steve, one of the Conaculta cookbooks (#5) is Recetario guanajuatense del xoconostle… I’ve never cooked from it, although they do occasionally have xoconostle at Berkeley Bowl.

    It does not name the species of Opuntia; the Diccionario de gastronomía Mexicana gives O. lasiacantha (with perhaps false precision). A cursory google turns up little about cultivation except that the NYBG flowered it easily (surely in a greenhouse) at the turn of the last century:
    I’ll see if I can come up with something better later.

  2. Thanks for the sleuthing. They last a long time so if you’re interested and you see them, you can keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to experiment.
    What I’d love is a paddle. Succulents from seeds seems to be a drag.
    I have many of those books so i’ll check if i have number 5 tonight!

  3. Steve have you tried xoconostle with beans? DK has a recipe, from Hildalgo, with Flor de Mayo, xoconostle, guajillos, avocado leaves, etc that I used to enjoy (My Mexico, p 200, Frijoles Quebrados). My favorite is still en almíbar over coconut ice cream; it’s good and so pretty.

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