Non-edible Chestnuts

 This is the time of year that I get a lot of comments on my post "Edible chestnuts vs. Horse chestnuts" with all kinds of stories people who have tried to eat Horse Chestnuts thinking that they were edible chestnuts.  The images here are of the NON-EDIBLE Horse Chestnuts. 

Prickly Pear or Barbary Fig - a tree like cactus

 The Prickly Pear or Barbary Fig is a tree like cactus that is widely grown for its edible "tuna" fruits in semi-arid regions around the world.  The images in this post come from central Spain in the Extremadura region.
 The tasty yet somewhat seedy fruits of this tree-cactus are a bit of a challenge to pick since both the leaves and fruits are covered with both pointy, thorny spikes and small, fine prickly "hairs".  If you don´t what to get a hand full of these bothersome barbs you had better come prepared.  A thick set of gloves with wrist protectors is one way to go about picking them.  Then comes the challenge of riding the fruit of their thorns and hairs.  One way to go about it is to place several dozen in a gunny sack, get them wet and then agitate the sack for 5-10 minutes.  This can be done by hanging the sack from a branch or bean and then rocking the sack back and forth with your hand.  In this way the fruits end of cleaning each others prickles off.
 To eat the fruit one has to first peel back the skin.  One way that I like to do this is to slice off both ends, make a cut down one side and then peel the rest off starting from the cut and removing the rest of the peel in one piece leaving the tasty interior ready to be eaten as is.

First Fruits of the Fig Tree - Breva crop

 The Common Fig (Ficus Carica) tree produces two crops of figs each year.  The first crop, which grows on the previous years shoot growth is called the "breva" crop (from the Spanish term) or the "First Fruits" crop.  In Italian these first figs are called "Fioroni".  These first fruits of the fig tree are larger than the normal figs and often present with a different color.  They are also less sweet and a bit dryer.  They are however prized for their size which can approach that of a medium sized pear.  "Brevas" are usually harvested between June and July while the main crop is harvested in August and September.  The main crop of figs grows in the current years shoot growth.

It is not uncommon to see the main crop of figs growing while the Breva figs are ripe for harvest.  In the top image of this post you can see how the Breva fig is growing from the previous years branch growth and the newer main crop is growing on the new branch shoot.