The Tohono O’odham pick ciolim in their lunar calendar month of Su’am Maṣad - “Yellow Month” - which falls around April. Traditionally, the buds are then dried so that they can be stored all year. Buds are then soaked and rehydrated before cooking.The tiny flower buds of cholla cactus taste like asparagus and are extremely nutritious. A two-tablespoon helping has as much calcium as a glass of milk, and the mucilage they contain is reported to help balance blood-sugar levels. They will readily absorb the flavors of whatever they are cooked with. Terrific in antipastos, chiles, salads and sautées, use them as you would artichoke hearts or asparagus tips. Cooking instructions included.
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