Learn how to enjoy desert’s bounty - East Valley Tribune: Living Well

Learn how to enjoy desert’s bounty

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Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 12:16 pm | Updated: 2:39 pm, Tue Aug 20, 2013.

The desert only feels like a hot wasteland this time of year; in reality, there’s food out there, and Apache Junction cookbook author Jean Groen can show you how to find it and what to do with it.

Groen will explain how to pick, juice and prepare the red fruits of the prickly pear cactus in classes at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, just a short drive from the East Valley.

During the informal, 60-minute class, you’ll stroll the grounds of the park, learning how to safely harvest enough “pears” for a batch of juice or jelly. Groen teaches techniques to remove the prickly spines from the fruit and shows how to extract the vivid magenta juice, which can be used in jelly, iced tea, lemonade, cocktails and other recipes. Guests will get to sample a prickly pear smoothie or other snack.

The first class is this weekend, but three more will be offered through the height of prickly pear picking season. Groen’s annual classes have taught nearly 1,000 people how to use the plentiful cactus fruit.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

DETAILS >> 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Additional classes are offered Aug. 14 and 27 and Sept. 5. Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, 37615 U.S. Highway 60, Superior. Free with general admission of $9 per adult and $4.50 per child age 5-12. (520) 689-2811 or www.arboretum.ag.arizona.edu

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