Cook With Prickly Pear Cactus Pads

Edible cactus can be a unique addition to your kitchen repertoire.

  • Edible Prickly Pear Cactus In Bloom
    Edible cactus, such as these prickly pears, can add texture and flavor to your meal. 
    Photo By Fotolia/Gialp

  • Edible Prickly Pear Cactus In Bloom

I received a prickly pear cactus as a gift, but didn’t have much hope for it when I planted it in late March. However, it perked up in May, and bright yellow flowers blossomed in June.

Prickly pear is used for nectar, jellies, fruit spreads and candies. Edible cacti are popular in Mexico and Central America. In the United States, you can find them in Mexican grocery markets. When cooked, the cactus pads taste like a tart green bean, asparagus or green pepper, and contain calcium and vitamins B and C.

Studies indicate that the pectin contained in cactus pulp can lower “bad” cholesterol, and the pulp’s soluble fibers are said to help keep blood sugar stable.

I barbecue medium-sized prickly pear cactus pads by removing the needles, nodules and edges with a knife and then drizzling the pads with olive oil and pepper before throwing them on the grill for 10 minutes on each side. Some mornings, I sauté the pads and add them to my omelet. Prickly pear may be too tart for some, but combined in a medley with rice or other veggies, it can add zest to any dish.

Jim Brennan 
Chalfont, Pennsylvania 

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters