Is Cactus a Vegetable or a Fruit? (Can you eat it?)
Is Cactus a Vegetable or a Fruit? Can you eat a Cactus? A cactus is a plant whose fruits can be eaten in most cases. Cacti make us wonder many times whether the plant can be eaten as a vegetable. There are many types of cacti you can find or plant in your garden like the Dancing Bones Cactus, Fishbone Cactus, Cereus peruvianus, Night Cactus etc. The cactus plants have fleshy leaves but not all of them can be consumed. Some varieties are toxic like Peyote, San Pedro, and Bolivian.
- The cactus plants like prickly pear, dragon fruit cactus, and cholla are some of the varieties that can be used as vegetables by simply removing their vines using knives or manually taking them out.
- The cactus plants are succulents that store a lot of water in them that help them survive in the scorching heat but avoid overwatering or underwatering the cactus.
- The fruit of cactus plants tastes sweet and the fruit can be eaten raw or even used with other fruits or cooking various dishes.
So can you eat cactus? What happens when you eat cactus? We know this common doubt and we will answer everything related to it.
Is Cactus a Vegetable or a Fruit?
Cacti are the xerophytes that can survive in very low water as well and even no water for many days. The cactus plants produce fruits that are called capsules. So basically the cactus plants are both vegetables and fruits. The cactus is overall an edible plant but can all cactus be eaten? The answer is No! Some cacti are edible. Also, the roots, stems, and leaves of the cactus are toxic and cannot be eaten.
The fruits of the cactus can be stored for months and dried as well. The flavors are seen to be intact even after months and years. Eat them after storing them for 3-4 months so that the strong flavor gets mild.
Can you eat cactus in the desert?
The cactus that usually grows in the desert are prickly pear cactus which has many edible parts. The plant’s parts like pads can be cooked and eaten in so many ways either by using in salads, soups, etc. These nopales look attractive that are red colored and fleshy. They can be eaten raw as well. It is important to remove the spines first as they can be toxic and can cause cuts.
For more such plant related-articles, you may also read, 10+ Benefits of Snake Plants you need to know!
Benefits of eating Cactus
Health benefits: eating cactus can help reduce the fat of the body and maintain blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the body. The cactus fruits are good for heart diseases, and stroke issues, they can be eaten to prevent vascular issues. The cactus juice has the lowest level of calories which don’t affect any circulatory passage of your body.
Which cacti are edible? (edible Cacti varieties)
Prickly pear cactus
The fruit can be eaten raw which gives a tropical flavor and when they ripen they turn orange ref and give a sweet sugary flavor. The prickly pear pads can also be eaten and used in salads, soups, stew, drinks, etc.
The fruit buds of the Cholla cactus can be enjoyed by eating them. The cactus has really sharp spines so it is important to handle them with caution. They are used in making desserts, drinks, and sweeteners. They can be eaten raw as well. The flavor is slightly similar to asparagus and artichoke with a little tangy zest.
Dragon fruit cactus
The dragon fruits are so juicy just like watermelon. The flavor is more like a tropical type. The fruit is high in fiber and good for the gut. The dragon fruits can be eaten raw just by taking off the outer skin which can have thorns or not. They are used in salads, making juices, and drinks.
The cactus barrel looks a lot like pineapple but the small ones. They are a bit costly but taste amazing. The fruit can be eaten raw and seeds too but make sure to roast them before eating. The barrel cactus fruits are used in luxury restaurants to make desserts, side dishes, salads, etc.
The fruit of the saguaro cactus is pulpy and more like prickly pear ones. The tiny seeds are loaded into the fruit. The fruit can be eaten raw by taking out the pulp via a spoon and enjoying it. They are used to make jams, jellies, syrups, etc.
Other varieties of cactus that can be eaten are Ardisia, Sword pear, Orchid cactus, and Barbados gooseberry.
What Cacti are not edible?
- Peyote cactus
- San Pedro cactus
- Bolivian torch cactus
Side effects of eating Cactus
The toxic varieties of cactus should not be eaten even if some of them look attractive. Though not all of the parts of the cactus can be toxic in general you should beware of eating them. The peyote cactus as I mentioned above is toxic and contains a psychedelic alkaloid called mescaline which can affect the functioning of the brain. The San Pedro and Bolivian torch cacti are again toxic varieties that should not be ingested as they cause severe damage to the digestive system. The nodal cactus in some cases have come up to be harmful as they cause headache, diarrhea, etc after getting ingested.
Ways to grow Cactus:
You can easily grow many types of cacti in your house that you can grow indoors and outdoors. To grow them you need to plant them with well-draining and moisture-controlling capacity of soil.
The following are three types of cactus you can grow easily in your house:
- Prickly pear cactus
- Dragon fruit cactus
- Elephant bush cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus:
The prickly pear cactus comes under healthy and popular cactus fruit which you can eat before your snacks or salads. you need to follow the below steps to grow them:
- Firstly you need a container for planting cacti in them
- Next, fill the container with drainable soil.
- For planting them you need to dig the hole according to the cactus root ball.
- Plant the cactus into the hole and fill the gap of the hole nicely with the soil.
- Remember to water the cactus in moderate mode for every 10-15 days.
- The right place to keep the pot is to face it in a north direction so that the plant gets direct sunlight for growing.
- You need to provide the cactus with bright sunlight for at least 5-6 hours a day to grow them.
Dragon Fruit Cactus:
These dragon fruit cactus have attractive spiky fruit which similarly taste like pears and kiwis.
The following are the steps to plant them:
- For planting them you need to fill the container with a well draining soil.
- After filling the soil you need to dig a hole and pot the dragon fruit into it.
- The right place for placing the pot is to place it facing the south in a direction so that it gets direct sunlight.
- They need to get at least 7-8 hours of sunlight in a day.
- In the case of sowing the seeds for growing them it will take upto 6 years but growing by cutting will take only one year.
Elephant Bush Cactus:
The elephant bush cactus does have a sour taste and has a crunchy texture which can be used in salads and soup. the following are some steps you need to consider for growing them:
- For planting them you need to have a mixture of drainable soil for potting.
- After that, you need to dig a hole in the soil to put the plant in it.
- To grow them you need to water the plant moderately.
- To get a positive result you need to place the pot in the south-facing ground to get them direct sunlight.
- You need to protect the plant from harmful sunlight.
We hope by now you are completely aware that cactus is a fruit or vegetable. They should be eaten or not. We have uploaded the maximum-related information in this article to make you understand the facts regarding the cactus. We are happy to help. Enjoy the edible cacti!
Can you eat all the cactus fruit?
The cactus fruits in most cases are edible and are safe to be eaten. The fruit has a weird flavor in a few cases, some have a stronger flavor than others. Mostly they taste bitter. They are totally safe to be eaten.
What does a cactus taste like?
The edible cacti and only a few can be eaten. The cactus tastes tangy and juicy. The pads of cactus taste like asparagus with a citrus flavor. So has a pulpy flavor while some of the cacti have a pepperish flavor.