Are you a cactus lover? Well, so am I! And while most cacti have spines, you can eat them too! Really, it’s no joke, I still remember the first time I ate a cactus and instantly fell in love with it. Although you can’t eat all cacti species and you’ll also have to take care of how you choose to eat them.
A cactus has a very sour taste. The sticky and crunchy pads taste like green vegetables, particularly like asparagus. Some cactus pads may also taste like green beans or green peppers.
Which cacti are safe for you to eat?
The Nopales or the Opuntia cacti species are the safest to eat. Their parts are all edible and do not have any poisonous characteristics.
The Nopales is just another name for the Opuntia species. There are more than 200 species of the Opuntia cactus, and you can eat all of them as long as you follow all the precautions and processes. The most common edible nopales cactus is the prickly pear cactus.
This is the cactus that also produces fruits which are known as pears. You can eat many parts of the prickly pear cactus - its paddle, flower, and fruit.
pair the nopales cacti with other veggies
To enhance the mild sour flavor of cactus, it is recommended you eat it with a mix of other vegetables.
You may find that a cactus tastes differently according to how it is eaten.
Cactus pads become slimy when they are cooked improperly.
If you choose to eat cactus pads uncooked, it would feel sticky in your mouth. You’ll feel the crunchy taste as it enters your mouth. While it may not be dangerous, it can be unhygienic. So it’s always best to clean and thoroughly cook your cactus before eating it.
cooking a cactus is important
While eating a raw cactus is possible, it is not always a good idea. It can have many types of germs or bacteria which can only be removed after proper boiling.
So indeed you can eat some cacti, but are there any ways to do it?
It is preferable to boil a cactus before eating.
Whichever way you choose to eat your cactus, it’s best to not select a withered or wrinkled piece. Such a cactus pad may not have the punch of flavor you’re expecting or may even be more sour than usual.
watch out for the spines!
Humans don't have the mechanism to eat a cactus along with its spines. So always remember to remove the spines before you eat a cactus in any manner!
You can cook cacti easily by boiling. However, regardless of the cactus species, you cannot cook all its parts.
If you want to boil cactus leaves, here are some tips you should follow:
After you’re done with boiling, you can drain off excess water. Take some cold water and rinse the cactus pieces thoroughly.
select cactus parts wisely to cook
If you decide to boil or cook your cactus, only choose certain leaves. Fresh green leaves are the best choice. Moreover, smaller leaves would be easier to cut and faster to boil too!
You shouldn't eat a cactus just for its taste!
A cactus is very rich in nutrients. A single cup of chopped cactus contains calcium, proteins, fiber, and more. Eating a cactus will heal you of many issues. It has anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties.
Here is how eating a cactus will benefit you:
Here is an excellent resource on the medicinal properties of a cactus by the NCBI .
Prickly Pear fruit cactus
There are many varieties of prickly pear fruit. However, all of the fruits and pads have the same vegetable-like sour taste. If you wish and could get your hands on many types of prickly pear cacti, don't be afraid to do so!
Never eat a cactus if you have any doubts at all!
Cacti species are divided into poisonous and non-poisonous categories.
Never attempt to taste a cactus just because you think it would taste good. Not all cacti or succulents can be safe to eat. So it is always best to check with an external resource.
To see if your cactus is on the list of edible and non-poisonous cacti, here is an excellent resource from the APSCA .
So, a cactus pad has a mildly sour taste, which is close to that of asparagus or green beans and other vegetables. The most common edible cacti are the Opuntia species, of which the Prickly pear cactus is famous for its fruit too. The cactus pads have a sour taste, whereas the fruit is more of a bubbly punch.
Did you know that animals enjoy eating cacti too? Read this fascinating post on 9 animals that can eat cactus .
My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!
You may also like: