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Organic nopales in Sonoma County?

Melanie Wong Oct 16, 2007 10:50 PM

Anyone know where I can get some organic nopales? I want the raw ingredient for cooking. So far, I've visited Ortiz Brothers organic farm in Santa Rosa, inquired about the couple large cacti on the property, and learned that they're not a good eating variety except for the cactus flowers. Also asked at Tierra Vegetables, which has quite a row of cactus along one border, but apparently they only harvest the pads in the spring.

Other ideas?

  1. s
    Stephanie Sugars Oct 17, 2007 07:11 AM

    Melanie- Try the Sebastopol berry farm folks. They're at Santa Rosa Vets Memorial farmers' market on Saturday & Wednesday. They have organic raspberries and blueberries and handpainted gifts. They often have nopales, but I'm uncertain whether they're in season?

    They may be on farm trails, so check there too.

    Oh yes, Luther Burbank Garden in downtown SR probably culls their cactus occasionally, but they use -cides in their garden.

    Happy cooking!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Stephanie Sugars
      Melanie Wong Oct 26, 2007 12:51 PM

      I went to the Santa Rosa market last Saturday. The Sebastopol Berry Farm stand had been recommended to me by Hector's and the Ortiz Bros for cactus too. But no luck, they weren't there. Maybe they only come to the market when they have berries to sell.

      Hector's Honey told me they only sell the cactus flowers from their farm. Not the right kind of cactus to eat the paddles apparently. Not certain of organic status here, Hector's doesn't spray, and that's good enough for me.

    2. s
      Sonoma County Girl Oct 17, 2007 07:12 AM

      Hi Melanie-
      I know Tierra Vegetables has Nopales, but I'm not sure if they're organic. I would think they are because everything else is. They're on Airport Blvd.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sonoma County Girl
        Melanie Wong Oct 26, 2007 12:54 PM

        Tierra promotes itself as "sustainable". Farming methods are organic, but not certified. That's good enough for me. However, they only harvest the cactus in the spring, as noted in my original post. None available now.

      2. Eat_Nopal Oct 17, 2007 03:26 PM

        I don't see why any farmer would use pesticides on Nopales grown in California... I doubt you will find any Certified Organic because the market just doesn't exist... but outside of some accidental spill over... I just can't imagine anyone would bother to spray them.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Eat_Nopal
          Melanie Wong Oct 26, 2007 12:49 PM

          I've seen cactus plants growing in organic (certified or not) farms and vineyards as fence barriers. So, that's good enough for me.

        2. f
          Fig Newton Oct 17, 2007 05:14 PM

          I know that Napa <> Sonoma, but you should see if you can get some from Steve:

          The last nopales that I got were from someone's house about a mile off the square in Sonoma ... maybe I should get you the address. ;)

          2 Replies
          1. re: Fig Newton
            Melanie Wong Oct 26, 2007 12:47 PM

            Thanks, Rancho Gordo's a little too far but good idea.

            I've had my eye on various cacti, seems many gardens, orchards and vineyards around here have some plus the ones on the side of the road, and they're studded with cactus blossoms now. But after talking to a few farms, it seems that only certain kinds are good eating and/or the harvested parts need to be quite young and tender. That was all new to me.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Eat_Nopal Oct 26, 2007 01:18 PM

              Yeah... its simple to spot the edible ones... if the paddles are supple, light green, less than 1/2 inch thick & the thorns are small... then they are edible.

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