The only food use for cacti that a modern European can come up with is to use these plants to make tequila. In fact, eating the soft part of a cactus is quite easy, as it contains about eighty percent of the water. But it is very important to know which cacti you can eat and which you shouldn't, because they can be poisonous.
It all depends on the type of cactus
A variety of cacti produce juicy, large and fragrant fruits. Compotes and jams are often made from these fruits. Sometimes they are eaten raw, and sometimes they are added to meat dishes. In our country, cacti are bred mainly as ornamental plants, so their use seems wild.
The fruits of prickly pear, which have a pleasant sweet and sour taste, were used as food by the Aztecs. Europeans call these fruits the prickly pear because they look like this fruit. Opuntia is eaten dried, boiled or even fresh, after removing the thorns. Jellies, syrups and soft drinks are made from the juice of the fruits of this cactus. Mexicans use not only fruits, but also young shoots of prickly pear, which are used to prepare traditional dishes.
Scientists and enthusiasts in Kazakhstan were going to grow a number of thornless cacti as livestock feed. According to their plan, such cacti had to be planted in desert zones. However, this venture was not crowned with success.
In Mexico, there are many types of cacti, the stems and fruits of which are quite edible. Nopales stalks can be bought in any market in Mexico for a penny. These stems (shaped like shovels) are eaten fried, pickled, boiled and fresh. It is believed that the use of nopal promotes the elimination of toxins from the body and normalizes blood sugar levels. Nopal is used in medicine to improve the condition of the gastrointestinal tract. The fruits of this cactus, which usually have an orange, yellow or red color, are also considered edible.
The pulp of almost any cactus can be baked in the oven wrapped in foil. The taste will vary depending on the type of cactus.
Some time ago, an edible thornless cactus was grown in Israel, which helps with diabetes, asthma, whooping cough and hypertension. A number of medical studies have shown that eating the juice of this cactus can reduce the amount of sugar in the blood.
Agave is a versatile cactus
The most popular cactus in Mexico is the agave in all sorts of forms. Whole fields across the country are sown with it. Blue agave is used to make Mexican vodka - tequila, which has now gained popularity throughout Europe. From other species of this plant, the Mexicans make the plant fiber sisal, which is excellent for making traditional clothes and folk Mexican bedspreads, tapet.