Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Prickly Pear Cactus Cookies

At the end of August 2019 I was with my nephew, John, in northeastern Mexico driving from Zacatecas to San Luis Potosi when he saw a sign for Pinos, which is a "magic" town, and he asked if we could take a detour and visit it. A magic town in Mexico is one that is being promoted by the Secretary of Tourism as one offering a "magical" experience because of natural beauty, cultural richness, traditions, folklore, historical relevance, cuisine, art crafts or great hospitality. Pinos is apparently known for its pottery. 

We drove about 15 miles south of Hwy 49 and took a slow drive through Pinos, not finding anything motivating us to stop. On the way back to Hwy 49 John mentioned there were signs for tuna cheese next to a truck pulled over to the side of the road. In Mexico the pads of the prickly pear cactus are known as "nopal" and the fruit is known as "tuna." John wondered out loud how cheese could be made out of prickly pear cactus blossoms (while I was still trying to figure out how cheese could be made of tuna, what he'd originally said). 

Behind the truck were huge prickly pear cacti with enormous fruit, much larger than any I've ever seen. The truck had large plastic buckets full of fruit, some of it green and some red. The green fruit, which is less ripe, is less sweet. The red fruit is riper and more sweet (although I did not realize it at the time).
Tubs of green fruit.
A tub of red fruit.
John ordered a green fruit for me and the man cut off both ends, then peeled the outer edges off using a knife. This gets rid of the glochids, hair-like spines that can be quite painful. The fruit was refreshing on a warm day, cool, and a little bit sweet, but very pleasing. However, the inside was full of seeds that were the consistency of hundred of bbs. They were too hard to chew and break, so I swallowed some and spit out most of them. They were very annoying. It is possible to strain the fruit and get rid of them and I think that is what I would do if I ate it on a regular basis. 
The outside peeled off.
Then we ordered brown cactus cookies. It was almost like fruit rollups, very concentrated fruit formed into a sticky round cookie. As I understood it, the fruit was cooked and cooked until it was a thick syrup and then made into the cookies. It was so concentrated and so strong that it was almost too much. The fruit was much more pleasant fresh and straight. 
A box full of cactus cookies.
A single cookies which I ate. 


  1. They were fun to try once, but I don't think I would ever buy them regularly. I still say calling them cheese was a bit of false advertisement.

  2. They look like the smoked cheese we ate in Poland.