A couple of years back, someone asked me whether or not I’ve tried eating cacti and/or succulents. Like most people, my immediate response was no, mostly because I thought that these particular plants cannot be eaten. However, soon after my friend prepared it for me and I quickly realized that I was incredibly wrong – a lot of species are actually edible and really delicious.
If you were wondering if you can cook and eat cacti and succulents, you now know that it’s entirely possible. But, you must ensure that you only cook the edibles. To make things easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top frequently asked questions about cooking and eating these plants:
So, I Can Consume Them?
Yes! As we’ve already mentioned, there are cacti that you can eat and not only are they tasty, but they’re also incredibly nutritious for your body! Some types that you can find can be eaten completely raw, without any preparation and cooking beforehand. However, there are some other types that’ll require you to prep them, as well as fry or bake them, and once you’re done, you can consume them.
Now, since there are specific types that can be eaten, you’ll want to be extra careful and also, you’ll want to learn which ones are edible, which can be eaten raw, and of course, you’ll also want to learn how to prepare them properly. Once you determine which cactus or succulents you want to try preparing, you should also make sure that you purchase them from a reliable seller, mostly because you’ll want to ensure that they haven’t used any pesticides.
Which Types Can I Consume?
The types you can consume, as well as how you can prepare and cook them will be the key focus of our article, but, it’s worth mentioning that we won’t be mentioning every single edible species out there, hence if you want to, you could also find other options that you can try cooking. Nonetheless, here are the top edible cactus and succulents, how to cook them, as well as how beneficial they are:
1. “Dragon Fruit”
There are big chances that you’ve already tried eating dragon fruit, but if you haven’t, you should know that they have a sweet taste. The fruit can be eaten fresh and the only thing you’ll have to do in this case is to peel the skin, cut the fruit, and that’s it! You could also make smoothies with them and if you find a good recipe, you can cook the fruit and make it into a nice sauce that goes with various meals. It’s full of vitamin C and A, as well as magnesium and calcium.
2. “Prickly Pear”
According to the experts from Succulent Market, prickly pears are one of the most popular edible cacti, and if you want to try them, you should know that both the fruit and leaves can be consumed. Since they have splinters on their pads, you’ll need to learn how to harvest and clean them. Once you do that, you can roast the plant in your oven, peel the skin when it’s done, and then remove the seeds. This cactus is full of healthy acids and minerals such as iron and potassium.
3. “Barrel Cactus”
Only a couple of cacti have every edible part, and the Barrel cactus is one of those plants. They’re spineless, meaning that you won’t have problems with harvesting them. In fact, you can eat them immediately after you wash them with water! You could cook them as well, add the seeds to your bread or Greek yogurt, or you could dry it out, roast it, and enjoy some healthy snacks! They’re high in fiber and have analgesic properties.
Saguaro is one of the most commonly eaten cacti and once it’s ripe, it’ll open, which is why you must harvest them in June. If it didn’t open, you can remove the husk and seeds with a spoon and soak the rest in some hot water for about 3 to 4 hours. Once the liquid has formed, you can consume it, make jam or wine from it, or you could make a syrup for pancakes! The plant is low in calories and full of vitamin B12.
Can I Consume The Leaves?
Yes, as we’ve mentioned, you could, for example, prepare the leaves of a prickly pear. The stem is also referred to as the paddles and they can be eaten as a vegetable. It tastes like beans, hence, you can add it to your salad or you could make it into a puree and eat it with other food. Again, when selecting, you must be extra careful since you don’t want to consume the wrong plant or the wrong part of it.
Are There Any Benefits to Eating Cacti And Succulents?
You would be surprised how beneficial these plants can be! For starters, some of them – including the prickly pear – have antiviral characteristics, which basically means that they can help your body fight off viruses. Second, types such as the Nopal cacti can help you keep your nerve cells safe, mostly because they’ll release neuro-protective vitamins and minerals that are capable of shielding your nerve cells from harm.
They’re also rich in antioxidants – which can lower the number of free radicals in your body – and they can also help regulate your blood sugar levels, thus, if you’re suffering from type 2 diabetes, consuming these plants can be incredibly helpful! Another thing that you might like about it consuming cacti and succulents is that they can help you with alleviating most symptoms of a hangover, mostly because they’ll provide your body with anti-inflammatory substances.
Although a lot of people would tell you that it’s impossible to eat cactus and succulents, this isn’t entirely true. In fact, there is a wide array of such plants that can be consumed, and the only thing that you must be careful about is which part you eat, as well as how you prepare them!
Since you’ve now learned that you can consume this type of plant, you might be up for trying it! If so, do some research online, determine which plants you should try, find a tasty recipe, and then prepare a cactus or a succulent, and enjoy eating something completely new and different!