Edible cactus, called nopales, has been popular in Mexico, Italy, India and Australia for ages, but lately it’s catching on in the US as well.
Edible cactus, called nopales, has long been popular in Mexico and other South American countries, as well as Italy, India, Africa and Australia, but lately it’s catching on in the US as well.
Most sought after are the pads or paddles, often used to make nopalitos, and the fruit, usually called cactus pears, and suppliers are finding they’re becoming increasingly popular in new markets.
One Southern California cactus farm says while a lot of customers are long-time consumers, many newcomers are showing up, eager to get their hands on the produce because of its health benefits.
Packed with vitamin C, fiber, and anti-oxidants it’s great for boosting everyday wellness and, some studies say, even treating diseases like diabetes.
They’ve also become popular as a hangover cure.
If you’re planning to jump on the cactus wagon, there are a couple things that you should know.
One is that the edible parts vary widely in flavor. The paddles are similar to tart green beans or artichokes, whereas the pears are much sweeter and have a texture like a watermelon or a kiwi.
Also, the paddles can be a bit slimy, so both boiling and grilling are the recommended cooking techniques.