What does Cactus taste like?
I really enjoyed it!

Have you ever tried to eat a cactus? Well, you would want to eat one after you get to know what they taste like!

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Jimena Bolívar

July 06, 2021


What does Cactus taste like? I really enjoyed it! Thumbnail

Introduction

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. 

An opuntia cactus with many pads and fruits

Can you eat all cacti species?

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.

Nopales Cactus

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.

A bowl full of Nopales cactus salad

PRO-TIP

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. 

What does cactus taste like if it’s cooked improperly?

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.

WARNING!

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. 

What are some ways to eat cactus?

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.

WARNING!

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!

Boiling

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:

  1. Take off all the spines using a clean knife.
  2. Chop it into extremely tiny pieces, just like you would do with any other vegetable.
  3. Boil at low heat for around 20 minutes.

After you’re done with boiling, you can drain off excess water. Take some cold water and rinse the cactus pieces thoroughly. 

PRO-TIP

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!

What are the benefits of eating a cactus?

You shouldn't eat a cactus just for its taste!

An opuntia species prickly pear cacti pads with many red prickly pears (fruits)

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:

  1. Antioxidant properties: These are the properties that help prevent diseases related to the heart and other life-threatening diseases such as cancer.
  2. Anti-inflammation properties: These are the properties that help reduce any swellness, redness, or pain that is caused by inflammation. Inflammation may be external or internal, and cacti can help reduce or diminish it.

Here is an excellent resource on the medicinal properties of a cactus by the NCBI .

PRO-TIP

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!

What precautions should you take while eating cactus?

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 .

Conclusion

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 .

9 Animals That Can Eat Cactus. This is How They Do It!

Did you know that some animals eat cacti, including their spines? Yes it's true, and you won't believe the way they do it!

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

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!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

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!

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