Barrel Cactus and Cob

fruit for chutney and seeds for roasting

Today we finished processing the barrel cactus fruit and seeds. The seeds we harvested were mixed in with a lot of gelatinous chaff. Before we were able store the seeds we needed to remove the excess chaff. Usually we would roast the seeds first, then use our fingers to pulverize the chaff and then sift it out or literally blow it out with soft controlled blows from our lungs. As you can imagine this process is very tedious and time consuming. Instead we tried a new method that worked wonderfully. It saved us a great deal of time, provided a valuable bi product and made us very happy. Here is the process…

 

We soaked the seeds in water. Most of the seeds fell to the bottom due to their weight and the chaff floated to the top.

helping the chaff separate from the seeds

Then we carefully poured the water on top through a strainer, which separated the chaff and the water, which now contains the mucopolysaccharides from the chaff.

mucopolysaccharides

We will use this water to make cob and earth plaster. Mucopolysaccharides make cob and plaster bind together better. It also makes them more workable and adds weather resistance.

we also use the little bit of casein left over in an empty milk carton, casein is good for plaster too

This water also makes a wonderful conditioning hair rinse that adds moisture and shine. We will use the water that the fruit has been soaking in for that purpose.

The native people who where the true builders of the Catholic San Xavier del Bac Mission in Arizona, about 9 miles outside of downtown Tucson, used lime plaster made with cactus juice to cover the adobe bricks.  They would boil cactus pads in water for hours to extract the mucopolysaccharides.  This is a technology developed and used by indigenous people of the Sonoran Desert and also of Northern Africa. This Mission is located on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. Tohono means desert and O’odham means people.

the mission

inside the mission

The native people who were the true builders of the Catholic San Xavier del Bac Mission in Arizona, about 9 miles outside of downtown Tucson, used lime plaster made with cactus juice to cover the adobe bricks.  This Mission is located on the Tohono O’odham Reservation.  The reservation occupies a non-contiguous land base of about 2.8 million sq. acres or 4.460 sq. miles of land, which is approximately the size of Connecticut.  It is the second largest native reservation in Arizona and has approximately 28,000 members living on tribal land.

 

 

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