Edible Succulent

Although it may be hard to believe, cacti and other succulents are excellent food sources for both people and livestock. Unfortunately, the knowledge of how to harvest them to use them in the kitchen is scarce. We may even have different plants at home, and we can consume safely and deliciously if we follow the correct recipes. Next, we will show you a list of some plants and their fruits that you can incorporate into your diet without problems. These are edible succulents.

Edible Succulents-SC Prickly Pear used along with fruits to enhance taste
IG@prickly_pear_est_2020/

Prickly Pears- an important edible succulent


First of all, we have the Prickly Pears; these are the O. Ficus plant’s fruits. They are trendy fruits, fleshy, and are suitable for consumption in raw or processed form. These also have great nutritional value and easy production. It is even possible to make jams thanks to their taste and arrangement. Sometimes it is possible to see its sale in organic markets. The only problem that its consumption presents is the presence of numerous seeds inside the fruit; these can make it a bit difficult to prepare by-products or their use in recipes and their consumption in raw.

Edible Succulent-Fruits of Mammillarias-SC
Mammillarias Image: IG@los_cactus_de_jandro

Fruits of Mammillarias


These are small fruits with bright colors and a delightful flavor; they are usually harvested mainly for consumption raw instead of elaborating derivative products. Unfortunately, due to their small size, they are challenging to produce on a commercial scale. Preserving once harvested can be difficult, so it is recommended to consume them as soon as possible.

Edible Succulent-Dragon Fruits-SC
Dragon Fruits: IG@dragon_.fruits

Dragon Fruits

These are the fruits that the different species of Hylocereeae offer. They are generally large in size, red in color. Inside they have a white and grainy body, filled with tiny pipes; they can be subtle but delightful.

Opuntia

These are fruits that one can eat in a wide variety of dishes. They are original and traditional in Mexico; in fact, they form an essential part of its gastronomy, being that these cooked fruits are one of the traditional Mexican dishes. Popularly known as nopal, it is an important fruit that has been given edible, medicinal, and religious use. It was a fundamental ingredient in dishes in Central America that suggests extensive culinary use, which involves consuming its fruits, the prickly pear, and leaves. Their prickly appearance may give them a dangerous appearance when consuming them, but there is no reason to be scared; it is not that difficult.

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Opuntia: IG@terrapod

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 that they used it 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, if consumed, these can cause a dangerous irritation of any mucosa that can even be fatal.

Edible Succulent-Euphorbia Balsamífera-SC
IG@mas.que.cactus

Ferocactus- Edible Succulent

Edible Succulent-Ferocactus-SC
Ferocactus: IG@cactusdediego


This classification is divided into two groups, one of these is 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 type of taste.

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Garambullo Image: IG@unamamavegana

Garambullo

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

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Cereus Image: IG@karlos_kytkos

Cereus fruits

These have the appearance of tomato; its 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 in the preparation of desserts in some countries of South America.

Pachycereus fruits

These fruits under a peculiar, somewhat thorny cover; when we remove them, we will see an edible sweet pulp with a flavor that, although it is a bit strange initially, its sweetness becomes pleasant over time.

Edible Succulent-Aloe Vera -SC
Aloe Vera Image: IG@kanafrik

Aloe vera

Aloe vera traditionally considered medicinal is an edible succulent originally from Kenya . It brings healing in its topical use and oral use as a purgative and laxative. Its application has spread to other areas as a food supplement and even as a culinary one in recent years. Despite different opinions about its consumption, mainly based on the fact that some parts of the plant may present astringent substances, constant direct consumption or derived 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. It means that, by peeling the leaves, we could use their interior content without fear or risk. This pulp, contrary to the plant’s skin, 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.

Portulacaria Afra- A very good Edible Succulent

It is an edible succulent that, like other plants with edible fleshy leaves, has 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 not only as food for elephants but also 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 good for health.

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Hylocereus: IG@rociocontreclaux

Hylocereus- another Edible succulent

This last species is not edible properly but rather ornamental; it is worth mentioning its close relationship and similarity of its stems, flowers, and fruits with the pitahaya. It is a plant of the endemic genus of Central and South America. Traditionally since pre-Columbian times, this species has been consumed both raw and processed, also used in the preparation of desserts. It also has nutritional properties that have led to its use as a dairy fermenter and antioxidant. Its fruits are aromatic with a smooth and pleasant flavor. The youngest stems and flower buds are also edible.

Something significant to remember is that succulents are sold solely or primarily as ornamental plants in many parts of the world. Therefore, they can be treated with phytosanitary products that are not suitable for human consumption and can be harmful to health. They expel all these phytosanitary products and begin to produce fruits suitable for human consumption, whether raw or processed.

6 Edible Succulents to Excite Your Taste Buds

6 Edible Succulents

Have you ever eaten a cactus?

Maybe you have and you just don’t know it. A pineapple, for example, is considered a succulent. How’s that for food for thought?

Comment below if you knew that fact already!

Not only are edible succulents interesting to look at but they come with an amazing array of health benefits for your body.

This is not the point where you go out and start chewing on the first succulent you see though. 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…

We have made it easier to sort out the good from the ugly with a list of 6 edible succulents that you can find at your local farmers’ market, or even order online!

6 edible succulents
succulent cupcakes! @mynameishandmade

Opuntia Ficus-Indica—Prickly Pear

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 happen to be 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’s, 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 touch. Tunas can be peeled, sliced and 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.

Why is the prickly pear Cactus One of the Most Popular Cacti?

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02/28/2021 03:37 am GMT
6 edible succulents
fresh prickly pears @donnamtrewin

Portulaca Oleracea—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 that has been found to inhabit Northern Africa, 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, (that is the leaves, stems, flowers and seeds), are all edible and have been used in recipes since the Middle Ages!

Purslane has smooth, red stems that sprout out 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 Greek Salad when combined with spring onion, garlic, feta cheese, tomato, oregano, and olive oil.

A great alternative to kale or spinach, the stems and leaves can be steamed or sautéed, topped with cream, and served accompanying 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, 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.

For any recipe, do not forget to garnish your plate with the bright yellow edible flower.

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02/28/2021 03:36 am GMT

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6 edible succulents
delicious purslane salad @noblesse11

Hylocereus—Dragon Fruit

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

The cactus is colloquially known as Queen of the Night because the flowers only bloom at night and give off a fruity fragrance. 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 also goes by Pitaya and Strawberry Pear.

The Dragon fruit has a white edible pulp with tiny black seeds and has a mild flavor that can be 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 boosts low iron levels, is low in calories, and aids in weight management.

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02/28/2021 12:37 am GMT
6 edible succulents
sliced dragonfruit @theformerfatgrl

Sedum—Stonecrop

Creeping up next on the list of succulents on a plate is Sedum, also known as Stonecrop. This ever-forgiving succulent has water storing, edible leaves and grows rampantly on walls, as ground cover and in-between rocks.

Sedum has its origins 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.

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.

Just 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 it is recommended as a laxative.

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

6 edible succulents
freshly watered stonecrop @cactulentguy

Carnegiea Gigantean—Saguaro Cactus

Standing tall like a security guard against the harsh Sonoran Desert is the Saguaro cactus. 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.

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

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02/28/2021 03:37 am GMT

Saguaro fruits have a faint taste of sweet strawberries and can be eaten fresh or baked into cakes. The fruit pulp is commonly used to create juices, jams, syrups and fermented wine. There are about 2000 seeds inside each fruit that have a nutty taste 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 in the growth of probiotic bacteria. It is also rich in fiber which helps with digestion.

6 edible succlents
blooming saguaro cactus @tilmanchris

Salicornia Europaea—Sea Beans

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 certain beaches.

Notoriously legendary on current culinary trends, this succulent has been plated up under the names 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.

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

Sea Beans are a great protein supplement and contain almost the same amount of 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.

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02/28/2021 03:36 am GMT
6 edible succulents
fresh sea beans @_mindfulmunch

The next time you are having 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 off with a Saguaro and Dragon fruit salad.

Not only do these exotic plants have health benefits, but you will be the culinary genius serving up succulent succulents!

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

Enjoyed learning about Edible Succulents to Excite Your Taste Buds? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about All the Types of Succulents for Indoor & Outdoor. 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.

Happy planting… and eating!?

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