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Fermented Xoconostle


Being an unbearable hipster, I of course am fermenting almost everything that stands still in my kitchen. Kombucha, vinegar, tepache, chiles, beets-- nothing is safe. My latest victim is the sour prickly pears known as xoconostle.


I am lucky enough to have them regularly in my local Mexican market here in Napa. The girls at the checkout look at them, then at me and then laugh, asking me if I know what they are. I know they think I believe them to be regular sweet prickly pears, or tunas, but I know they are sour and wonderful but very different from the sweet tunas.

As usual, I slowly roasted them on a clay comal, turning them often for an even roast. The smell is wonderful and when I get some time, I want to play around and see how many ways I can use this fruit. I made a salsa and what was leftover were the trimmings and the center sack loaded with rock-hard seeds.

I placed them in a mason jar with some honey and filled it up with water. Remember, this was just the waste I used, none of the fruit beyond what was clinging to the bottom skin or seeds. I covered this with a cut out from an old (clean!) tee shirt and wrapped it with a rubber band. Every day I stirred it and within a few days, it started to ferment. I added a little more honey and pushed it until it was starting, but not yet turning into vinegar. Fizzy, sweet and sour was my goal.


It's really good! I'm going to keep on doing this and even make some vinegar at some point.

I participate in a fermentation group on Facebook and mentioned this and one poster write" "Anyway, I read where the seeds contain quercetin. This made me wonder whether your xoconostle-honey ferment would take on many of the wonderful properties. If so, it would possibly have upper respiratory, cardiovascular, blood pressure-normalizing and anti-histamine benefits - as well as lots of anti-oxidant fabulousness." I don't know how much nutrition I was able to squeeze out for a short 7 day fermentation but maybe it did some good. I can use it!


As I like to say, I mostly interested in flavor and preservation. The health stuff is a real bonus.

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