Stage 1- Getting Acquainted with Prickly Pear

Stage 1: Getting Acquainted with Prickly Pear:

What we did:

  • scissors (tried to cut off the prickles)
  • pliers (in a circular motion to pull the prickle out)
  • scraper (good for peeling skin and digging the prickles out-but when we peeled the skin off of the plant, it broke apart more easily, falling into our juice container; pete said that isn’t necessarily a bad thing)
  • lighter (prickles burned off easily, but if we were trying to do this for mass amounts of cacti it wouldn’t be ideal)
  • made somewhat natural bricks with leaves, corn stalk, and prickly pear juice (leaving them in the sun until next week to see if it ends up working as a binder).
hitting the prickly pear with a hammer
trying to compress natural material with prickly pear juice
scraping the skin off the prickly pear
prickly pear juice
adding the prickly pear juice to leaves
using the juice as a binder
compressing the prickly pear
collection of prickly pear leaves and fruit

Our next step:

  • Bring a cheese grater, blender, strainer and paper towel technique; we could maybe blend what we grated to make it easier to work with; want to bring some materials for natural/adobe bricks, experiment with bamboo (layering bamboo and prickly pear plant to see if it is a strong hold).

Questions we want to explore:

  • Boiling the plant: will this denature the binding chemicals or could it be a useful method?
  • What amount of the juice would be needed for it to be useful? Which method of extraction would be the most feasible for a large scale utilization of prickly pear juice?
  • Where could this technology be useful? (ei: where is the plant abundant that would be willing to try the technology)
  • How sticky does the juice need to be?
  • What method gets the most juice per 10-12 x 5″ piece of cactus leaf?
  • How much juice is needed to work?
  • How concentrated does the juice need to be?
  • Are there other plants we could use?

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