Xoconostle (Opuntia matudae) are the sour fruit from a particular variety of cactus. Unlike sweet prickly pears (or tunas, as they're called in Mexico), xoconostle (show-ko-nost-lay) are naturally sour. They are most famously used in a dish called mole de olla, adding flavor and tartness to a rich, beef stew. We have been selling them sweetened and dried or salty and dried, and we now can offer them to you plain and dried, ready for re-hydrating and very close to the elusive fresh version.
After soaking in water for a couple of hours, you can add them to salsas, stews or the famous mole de olla. Actually, with stews, braises and other long, slow cooked meals, you can add them without soaking if you like.
Add xoconostle to a little sugar and fresh water, blend, soak, strain and you have a lovely agua fresca; no lime needed!
I recently made a chicken with white wine, potatoes and herbs. On a whim, I threw in a small handful of dried xoconostle and let the whole pot slowly braise until done. The xoconostle fit in perfectly, almost the way a sour apple might.
Xoconostle have legendary health benefits. There are even studies showing that xoconostle might be used as natural antimicrobial agent against E. coli. A lot of claims are made about the glucose-lowering effects of consuming xoconostle. We aren't qualified to make health claims but a little research will impress you. Indigenous people in Mexico have been eating them for 5,000 years for both flavor and the health benefits.
Be sure and reconstitute a few in water for a couple of hours and then experiment with their sour, subtle flavor.