Edible Succulents To Excite Your Taste Buds

Edible Succulents To Excite Your Taste Buds

Although it may be hard to believe, cacti and other succulents are excellent food sources for people and livestock. Unfortunately, the knowledge of how to harvest them to use them in the kitchen is scarce. This article will show you a list of edible succulents you can incorporate into your diet without problems.

Before we begin, ask: Have you ever eaten a cactus? Maybe you have, and you don’t know it. A pineapple, for example, is considered succulent. Comment below if you know that fact already 🙂

Edible succulents are interesting but have fantastic health benefits for your body. This is not where you start chewing on the first succulent you see. Like most living organisms, they have an inherent defense mechanism. If it’s not sharp thorns on the outside to keep off predators like cacti, they could produce poisonous alkaloids that can completely mess up your insides.

We don’t want that either … So, here are some edible succulents that you can buy at the supermarket or randomly find in the middle of the dessert 🙂

1. Opuntia Ficus-Indica The ‘Prickly Pear’

Opuntia Ficus-Indica The 'Prickly Pear'
Original image from @donnamtrewin on Instagram

If you are a true connoisseur of authentic Mexican cuisine, at one point, you should have had the Prickly Pear in a breakfast burrito or Sopa de Nopal (Nopale Soup). Nopales are the Spanish vegetable name for the flat, oval leaves or pads of the Prickly Pear cactus. This Native American succulent also produces an edible fruit called Tunas that can be found in local Mexican markets.

Having been a staple food for hundreds of years, Nopales are star attractions when they are included raw in salads or salsa, cooked with black pepper in casseroles, or grilled with garlic butter for tacos. It has a mild, neutral flavor, and the taste is similar to that of green beans or asparagus. Like Okra, they also produce a sticky substance when cooked, which should be rinsed off before eating.

Tunas, the edible fruit, grows on the tips of the leaves, and it is ripe when the fruit is deep red in color and soft to the touch. Tunas can be peeled, sliced, juiced, or mixed in a fruit salad.

The Prickly Pear has been a delicacy for ages, not only for its versatility but also for its health benefits. The leaves are packed with fiber, while the fruit is high in calcium and low in calories.

Follow Succulent City on Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram for more informative & interesting content about succulents & cacti 🙂 Join the discussions at our Facebook Group, “Succulent City Plant Lounge.” Happy planting, and live the moment!

2. Portulaca Oleracea – The Tasty Weed ‘Purslane’

Can’t find spinach in the market? Why not go for a succulent substitute such as Purslane?

Portulaca Oleracea, or Purslane, is a fast-growing, weed-like succulent found to inhabit Northern Africa, the Middle East, Southern Europe, India, and Australasia. It, therefore, has a lot of different names depending on which country you are in.

What makes this succulent exotic is that the whole plant (the leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds) is all edible and has been used in recipes since the Middle Ages!

Purslane has smooth, red stems sprouting small, oval-shaped green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Young stems and leaves make a healthy addition to salads when eaten raw but should be picked before flowers start to bloom. The leaves are crunchy and have a tangy, lemon-pepper flavor, creating an appetizing

A great alternative to kale or spinach, the stems and leaves can be steamed or sautéed, topped with cream, and served to accompany a fish or duck dish. The seeds have been known to feature in a variety of seed cakes.

Purslane has been considered in the culinary and medical world to be a nutritional powerhouse that helps in weight management and organ detoxification and boosts the overall health of your immune system. A vegan’s dream, Purslane is known to have more Omega-3 Fatty Acids than most green vegetables and some fish. It is also a great source of Vitamins A and C, promoting the growth and rejuvenation of healthy skin and nails.

A word of caution, though, just like too much of something is poisonous, eating Purslane frequently can be harmful because of the Oxalic acid found in the plant. Although steaming and cooking the succulent reduces the acidity by half, it’s advisable not to eat it too often.

Do not forget to garnish your plate with the bright yellow edible flower for any recipe.

ALSO READ:

purslane flowers
Photo by ignartonosbg via Pixabay

3. Hylocereus – The Famous Dragon Fruit

Indigenous to the Americas, the Hylocereus is an exceptional delicacy growing from a cactus cultivated throughout tropical and subtropical regions, including Southeast Asia, Australia, and the Caribbean.

Growing on vine-like stems, this succulent produces bright pink fruits with a leathery cover and scaly spikes resembling a dragon’s head.  It acquired the official name Dragon Fruit in 1993 and went by Pitaya and Strawberry Pear.

The Dragon fruit has white edible pulp with tiny black seeds and a mild flavor compared to a bland, slightly sweet kiwi or melon. The pulp can be scooped up and eaten raw, blended to enhance juices and cocktails like the ‘Dragotini’.

The Dragon Fruit is rich in antioxidants that help prevent inflammatory conditions like gout and other forms of arthritis. It also contains low iron levels, is low in calories, and aids in weight management.

6 edible succulents
sliced dragonfruit @theformerfatgrl

4. Sedum Succulents (Stonecrops)

Sedum, also known as Stonecrop, is next on the list of succulents on a plate. This ever-forgiving succulent has water-storing edible leaves and grows rampantly on walls, as ground cover, and in-between rocks. Sedum originates in the Northern Hemisphere but has also appeared in Africa and South America. There are about 600 species, most of which are safe to eat.

Original image from @cactulentguy on Instagram

The leaves of the Stonecrop have a mild, slightly bitter, peppery taste and crispy texture, making them popular in soups, tossed in a salad, or with your favorite stir-fry.  The leaves can be eaten raw, steamed, or fried. Cooking the leaves helps reduce the tartness in the taste.

Like too much of something is poisonous, Sedum should be consumed in moderation, as heavy consumption has been reported to cause stomach upsets.

The health benefits of munching a Sedum salad include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It has been identified to reduce coughing and is recommended as a laxative.

Check out “All You Need to Know About Stonecrop Succulents.”

Follow Succulent City on Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram for more informative & interesting content about succulents & cacti 🙂 Join the discussions at our Facebook Group, “Succulent City Plant Lounge.” Happy planting, and live the moment!

5. Carnegiea Gigantean—Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro cactus stands tall like a security guard against the harsh Sonoran Desert. Famous for its appearance in Mexican and Western cowboy movies, this tree-like succulent produces white blossoms only at night. These blossoms are the official state wildflower of Arizona and tend to release a scent like over-ripe melons.

Carnegiea Gigantean—Saguaro Cactus
Original image from @tilmanchris on Instagram

Having grown to over 40 feet (12.2 meters) tall, the Saguaro cactus has lived past 150 years and developed branches that look like arms waving from the central stalk. Once a year, around June, the Saguaro cactus produces a ruby-colored edible fruit on the crown of the arms and stem. The fruits are packed with pulp and seeds and require a special stick (Saguaro arm) to knock them off the succulent. 

Saguaro fruits have a faint taste of sweet strawberries and can be eaten fresh or baked into cakes. The fruit pulp creates juices, jams, syrups, and fermented wine. About 2000 seeds inside each fruit taste nutty and are crushed to create baking flour or a peanut butter-like paste used in cooking.

The Saguaro fruit is high in vitamin B12, which helps grow probiotic bacteria. It is also rich in fiber, which helps with digestion.

6. The Fancy Sea Beans Dish ‘Salicornia Europaea’

Have you seen ‘Sea Beans’ or ‘Sea Asparagus’ on a fancy menu? My friend, that is not a vegetable but a succulent! Salicornia europaea is a salt-tolerant succulent that grows wildly among mangroves, in salt marshes, and on specific beaches.

Notoriously legendary in current culinary trends, this succulent has been plated up under Sea Beans, Sea Asparagus, Samphire Greens, Beach Asparagus, Glasswort, Pickle Weed, and Sea Pickle. This edible plant has small, chubby, finger-like stems that look like green asparagus and is best harvested between June and August.

Original image from @_mindfulmunch on Instagram

Crunchy, yet highly salty! Sea Beans taste their best when boiled for about 90 seconds and are immediately shocked in a bowl of ice water to reduce the salt and retain their color and crispness. It is an excellent accompaniment to fish dishes and has also found its way into potato salads and Chinese stir-fry.

Sea Beans are a great protein supplement and contain almost the same protein as spinach! Being rich in iron and vitamin C, this succulent helps increase your iron uptake, while the high iodine levels help guard against thyroid disorders.

7. Euphorbia Balsamífera

Euphorbia Balsamífera

It is one of the scarce species of Euphorbias that are not toxic. In ancient times they were used as chewing gum, and believed they were used for dental hygiene. When it comes to growing this plant for consumption, we mustn’t confuse it with another of the same kind since many of these other Euphorbias look and produce almost the same fruits. Still, these can cause a dangerous mucosa irritation that can even be fatal if consumed.

8. Aloe Vera – A Versatile Edible Succulent

Although traditionally considered medicinal, Aloe vera is an edible succulent originally from Kenya. It brings healing in topical and oral use as a purgative and laxative. Its application has spread to other areas as a food supplement and even a culinary one in recent years. Despite different opinions about its consumption, mainly because some parts of the plant may present astringent substances, constant direct consumption or derivation from Aloe vera products may not be as beneficial as is believed.

However, it is essential to note that this plant’s pulp does not present any of the substances above but preferably has beneficial healing and culinary properties. We could use their interior content by peeling the leaves without fear or risk. Contrary to the plant’s skin, this pulp has a mild flavor with a mucilaginous texture; thanks to this characteristic, there are many drink recipes whose main ingredient is this pulp and soft on the palate.

Follow Succulent City on Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram for more informative & interesting content about succulents & cacti 🙂 Join the discussions at our Facebook Group, “Succulent City Plant Lounge.” Happy planting, and live the moment!

9. Portulacaria Afra – A Delicious Edible Succulent

Like other plants with edible fleshy leaves, it is an edible succulent with high water content. The palatal properties of the South African Portulaca Afra have led to its traditional use to prevent dehydration in arid regions. It has been exploited medicinally in ancient times. Consumed and used as food for elephants and in South African gastronomy. Its leaves have a high oxalate content that crystallizes, making it difficult to assimilate by the kidney (like spinach or yucca); it has vitamins and minerals that are good for health.

10. Cereus Fruits

Cereus Fruits

These appear like a tomato; their pulp is very abundant in each fruit. The flavor is very rich in sugars, and one can use it both in the preparation of jams and the preparation of desserts in some countries of South America.

11. Garambullo

Garambullo

It is the fruit of Myrtillocactus, the fruit has small in size and has a vivid reddish color, and they have a somewhat sweet taste. Thanks to the flavor, one can make sub-products such as jams.

12. Ferocactus Plants

Ferocactus edible

This classification is divided into two groups: those with fleshy fruit; in this case, the pulp they contain is consumed; it has a sweet and pleasant taste. On the other hand, there are those with non-fleshy fruit; in this case, the outer layer and the seeds are discarded; this layer has a flavor of sour apples that can be delicious for lovers of this taste.

Culinary Herbaceous Succulents

#1. Plectranthus Amboinicus 

Also known as the Cuban Oregano, Spanish Thyme, Indian Borage, and Mexican Mint, the Plectranthus amboinicus offers culinary and medicinal benefits. Originally from India, this succulent has naturally thick, fleshy green-grey leaves, covered in fine hairs, and saw-toothed edges. They spread as they grow, making them a perfect addition to a hanging basket.

Compared to other oregano plants, the Plectranthus amboinicus has a more robust flavor, and chefs recommend using it in small quantities. The leaves are usually crushed, dried, and used as a seasoning for soups and stews. The dried crushed leaves are also the main ingredient in Caribbean jerk recipes and can be used to stuff poultry before baking in the oven. Fish curries and mutton dishes come alive with a sprinkle of Plectranthus amboinicus but note that the leaves are criticized in salads because of their rough, hairy texture.

Traditionally, the Plectranthus amboinicus succulent was used to treat throat and respiratory infections, flatulence, constipation and as an aid to stimulate lactation. This succulent is known to have expectorant and laxative effects to help aid in digestion, relieve coughs, and relax spasms. Certain communities in Venezuela believe that the Plectranthus amboinicus can be taken to expel kidney stones.

The leaves contain an oil that can be extracted and used for cooking. The oil is said to have various health benefits including a good amount of thymol and carvacrol to build the immune system. It is also a great source of Omega 3, calcium, iron, and manganese that are all important for bone strength. Studies at the Georgetown Medical Centre in 2001 showed that taking healthy amounts of Plectranthus amboinicus can prevent and cure toenail fungus.

Enjoying learning about succulents that are considered herbaceous? If so, you’ll really enjoy our ebook about “The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers“. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents. 

BE SURE TO ALSO READ:

5 Succulents that are Considered Herbaceous
Plectranthus Amboinicus @hamont.houseplants

#2. Talinum Paniculatum

Also known as the Jewels of Opar. The Talinum paniculatum is a creeping succulent with long, orange or brown roots and bright, glossy green leaves. These succulents produce pink, cloud-like flowers that resemble cotton candy hanging over the succulent, thus giving it the famous names of Pink Baby’s Breath and Fame Flower.

Jewels of Opar were found originally in most parts of the Western Hemisphere, specifically Southern United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean islands. The tiny green leaves have become a staple in sandwiches and salads across Latin America. While the tiny black seeds produced have been noticed as a good supplement of Omega 3 oils.

Chefs and nutritionists do give caution on the number of leaves one can have as they contain oxalic acid which if taken in large quantities, could cause nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.

Talinum paniculatum has been around the medical world as effective in treating liver and kidney problems. Especially treating bad-smelling urine and gastrointestinal disorders. The leaves have a soothing effect on skin inflammations, burns, cuts, and bruises. The roots of the Jewels of Opar have been linked to the treatment of arthritis, scurvy, and pneumonia. Traditional healers also believed in the power of the roots as a reproductive tonic, enhancing vitality, reducing impotence, and as a natural aphrodisiac.

Make sure you also go check out “Where Do Most Succulents Come From?” for a look at where most succulents originate from.

5 Succulents that are Considered Herbaceous
Jewels of Opar @mmk.lizbeth

Final Words

The next time you have a dinner party, why not introduce your guests to some succulents on a plate?

Test out different taste buds with a Purslane salad or Prickly Pear soup as an appetizer. Go into the main course with sautéed Stonecrop or Sea Beans and finish with a Saguaro and Dragon fruit salad.

These exotic plants have health benefits, and you will be the culinary genius serving succulent succulents!

Have any recipes you’ve tried with these delicious edible succulents? Today, share your story in our exclusive Facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge!

Enjoyed learning about Edible Succulents to Excite Your Taste Buds? If so, you’ll enjoy the ebook about All the Types of Succulents for Indoor & Outdoor. This ebook will give you more detailed answers to help your succulents grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works best to grow your succulents.

Happy planting… and eating!

Succulent City chief editor

ABOUT ME

Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Posted in