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How to cook a cactus?

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The content of the article:

  1. Cooking history
  2. Dish recipes
    • Salad
    • Roast cactus

  3. Sweets
    • Jam
    • Sorbet
    • Jelly

  4. The drinks
    • Opuntia tincture
    • Non-alcoholic cocktail

  5. Medicines

Cactus is an unpredictable plant for our latitudes. It is used as a decorative flower and home decoration. Prickly stems, which are grown at home, are not suitable for ingestion, but wild varieties in Mexico and other countries of South America have been used for various dishes for a long time, the inhabitants of these countries are well aware of how to cook cacti.

Cactus cooking history

For the first time in food cacti began to be used in Africa. This is due to the small amount of water in the area. Initially, only the leaves were used, as they are fleshy and contain a lot of water. Previously, wild spines were found everywhere, a lot of them were in the desert. Therefore, during a severe drought, the local population collected leaves and used to prepare various beverages.

A little later, the Mexicans, too, drew attention to a strange plant, only this time the food was taken fruits, they are sweet and pleasant to taste, like tropical fruits. It was in Mexico that they later cultivated wild prickly pears to produce fruits. Now the Mexicans do not have a question what to cook from the cactus, as it has become a source of income for the locals.

Interesting facts about cacti and dishes from them:

    In Tunisia and Cyprus cacti are grown as hedges. This plant is covered with small fluffy spines. They are not dangerous at first glance, but they are not. When they hit the skin, they stick into its deep layers, causing burning and itching. An abscess and even blood poisoning can develop.

For the first time, Italians, rather than Mexicans, began to use the fruits of cacti as a dessert. They were the very first to prepare a salad and fruit dessert from the fruits of a prickly plant.

The largest exporter of cacti is now Mexico. Here there are special farms on which edible varieties of opuntia are grown.

Mexicans initially used only thorny leaves as food. One of the most popular dishes now are pickled leaves of the plant. They taste like pickled cucumbers.

In Mexico, many indigenous people cook grilled cactus with steak for the holidays. In addition, in many eateries in the country for breakfast scrambled eggs with chopped prickly pear leaves are served.

Doctors in Mexico successfully use cactus to lower cholesterol and even treat diabetes with the help of a plant.

  • Cacti are very useful, healers from Africa knew this. The leaves, roots and fruits they used to treat skin diseases and ailments of the internal organs.

  • Cactus salad

    For the preparation of salads used as fruits of prickly pear, and echinocactus leaves. Leaf salad is prepared with the addition of various vegetables and spices. Eat it, scooping with the help of bouffant (corn chips).

    Cactus salad recipe that came to us from Mexico:

      Soak the leaves (if you look from the point of view of botany, these are not leaves, but stems) for 20 minutes in cold water. Remove a thin layer of skin.

    Chop the flesh with a sharp knife into 2 by 2 cm cubes. Pour boiling water over the pieces of cactus and leave for 15 minutes. Drain water.

    Finely chop the parsley. Cut the cucumbers into thin slices. Tomatoes are cut in neat slices.

    Mix all the vegetables and cactus pieces, add canned sweet corn. Season the salad with balsamic vinegar and vegetable oil.

  • Mexicans love to spice up this salad with hot pepper. But for us it is more usual to add pickled onion in vinegar.

  • Roast cactus

    This is a great side dish for meat dishes. Prepare delicacies in Mexico. Used edible cactus Nopal. It is pre-cleaned of needles and peel.

    Recipe for cooking fried cactus:

      Cut 500 g of cactus pulp into thin slices and boil in water until tender. You will need 20-30 minutes.

    Remove the cactus from the boiling water and let cool. In a separate vessel divide 4 whites from yolks.

    Beat whites and yolks in different dishes and combine.

    Dip the cactus in the egg mixture and sand it in flour.

    Fry each piece of cactus on both sides and salt it.

  • Serve with tomato sauce from onions, tomatoes and garlic. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

  • Cacti Jam

    In our country, this dish is called jam, abroad it was called confiture or jam. He is often served with desserts, pastries, or simply eaten as a sweet addition to tea or coffee. Preparing the dish is quite simple.

    Cactus jam recipe:

      For preparation use fruits of prickly pear. If you use melocactus or echinocactus, then these species must be taken completely, that is, with leaves and stems.

    Before cooking, soak the fruits of the prickly pear or the leaves of echinocactus in cold water for 30 minutes. This will help remove the spines painlessly. You can do all the work in rubber gloves. A cut is made in the fruits of the prickly pear and the whole pulp is yellow or red.

    When using echinocactus, the leaves are cut into small cubes. Pour vegetable raw sugar. For 1 kg of fruit you need 500 grams of sugar.

    Then add 100 ml of lemon juice and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Leave in a saucepan for 20 minutes to let the fruit juice.

  • Put on fire and roast for 15-20 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and roll up.

  • Prickly pear sorbet

    This is a kind of ice cream or fruit ice. To prepare the dessert, you can use the yellow or red prickly pear fruits.

      To prepare 6 servings you need 6 fruits of a cactus, 50 g each of sugar and water, and egg white.

    Soak the fruit in very cold water for 20 minutes and scrape off the spines.

    Cut the flesh into small cubes and add it to the blender bowl. Grind to a state of mashed potatoes. It's okay if it is very liquid.

    In a separate bowl, mix 50 g of sugar and water. Put on the fire and stir constantly. When all the crystals are dissolved, pour the syrup into the puree.

    In a blender, whip 1 protein with a drop of lemon juice. The mixture should resemble foam.

  • Add a thin stream of cactus puree into the protein and stir gently. The mixture should resemble liquid foam. Pour the mass over the ice-cream bowls or molds and freeze. Served with ice cream and grated chocolate.

  • Cactus jelly

    The prickly pear fruits are so juicy and tasty that they are eaten raw or light desserts are prepared. All of them are low calorie, so ideal for women who are watching their figure.

      For 5 servings you need 5 fruits of the prickly pear of red or yellow color, 500 ml of water, 50 g of sugar and 20 g of gelatin. You will need 3 fruits of kiwi and mint leaves.

    Peel prickly pears and peel and cut into small cubes. Beat in a blender.

    Put the water on the fire and after its boiling, enter the puree. Stir and add sugar.

    Cool the mixture and add gelatin to it. Leave for 20 minutes. Put on the fire and stir constantly, do not boil the mixture.

    After the gelatin crystals dissolve, set aside the liquid.

    Peel kiwi fruit and cut into thin slices.

    Spread the fruit pieces on the ice-cream bowls and cover with cactus broth. Put in the freezer for 2 hours.

  • Serve in the bowls, garnished with mint leaves.

  • Opuntia tincture

    The recipe is based on the use of vodka, which is insisted on the fruits of cactus. For spices, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla are added to the mass. The drink goes well with fruit and resembles liqueur, though not so viscous and sweet.

    Recipe for making prickly pear tincture:

      Take 1 liter of vodka. Using garden gloves, clean the skin and spines of 0.5 kg of opuntia fruit. Cut into small pieces or plates.

    Place the fruit in a bowl and add a glass of granulated sugar, 20 g of vanilla sugar, 12 cloves, and a few cinnamon sticks.

    Pour vodka and 200 ml of fresh orange from the mass into the mass. Leave in a warm place for a day.

    The next day, mix the mixture so that the sugar is evenly distributed throughout the volume. Leave it in a cold place.

  • After 21-28 days, strain the mixture through cheesecloth. Then pour it into a container through a layer of cloth. You must achieve full transparency. Served with citrus tincture and tropical fruits.

  • Non-alcoholic cocktail "Pink Panther"

    This is a fruit drink, which is very refreshing in the summer heat. Even children can drink it.

      Take 3 fruits of the prickly pear and peel off.

    A handful of cherries peeled pits. With 200 g of blackberry, remove the tails.

    Put all components in a blender and chop.

    Now you can strain through cheesecloth. It is necessary that the bones do not fall into the cocktail.

    Squeeze a quarter lemon juice into a container. Pour a handful of ice and chop in a blender.

  • Pour the cocktail into glasses and dip the tubules.

  • Cactus Recipes

    In Africa and Mexico, cactus is used for medicinal purposes. It is used to prepare syrups, decoctions and rubbing for cough, bronchitis and varicose veins. In some settlements in Africa, there are shamans who use cactus to treat almost all diseases.

    Consider what medicine can be prepared from a cactus at home:

      From cough. For the preparation of a remedy, green edible cactus leaves are used. They need to be cleaned of thorns and squeeze out some juice. Mix in equal quantities honey, cactus juice and althea. Take the drug three times a day before meals. Treats a mixture of bronchitis, tracheitis and even tuberculosis.

    From eczema. The mixture is used to treat eczema, purulent wounds and abscesses. Peel the leaves of the green cactus from the needles and peel and chop into puree. Strain through cheesecloth. Mix one part of cactus juice and 2 parts of horseradish juice. Soak a liquid with a bandage or cloth and apply to the boil. Change the compress every three hours.

    From stomach ulcers and gastritis. Chopped cactus leaves (two spoons) pour 500 ml of boiling milk. Enter the skin from one mandarin. Close the mixture in a thermos and leave for 14 hours. Take 120 ml of liquid three times a day.

    From sciatica. Peel a few cactus leaves from the spines and peel and rub on a grater. Rub the resulting porridge into the sore joints. Cover the ointment with compress paper and leave for 1 hour. It is recommended to do compresses in the morning and evening. If you wish, you can leave the application for the whole night.

  • From cold and SARS. Used tincture of prickly pears. To prepare the drug, take three leaves of the cactus and cleanse the skin and spines. Cut into small pieces and fold into an enamel pan. Pour 500 ml of boiling water. Add a handful of linden color and wrap the pot. Leave overnight. Take the medicine of 125 ml in the morning and evening.

  • How to cook a cactus - see the video:

    Application in everyday life

    For a long time, cacti served as a building material, food for humans and fodder for livestock, objects for ritual ceremonies, and medicines. They are protected by the territory of rich villas. They are used as supports and beams in the construction of dwellings. Souvenirs for tourists are made from cacti wood. Today, in anhydrous places, this plant can quench thirst (it contains up to 90% of water).

    Cacti today produce vitamins, drugs, alcohol, wine and liqueurs, soap, etc. Waste is used as feed for birds. Many species give fruit, fragrant and juicy. They are consumed raw. They are used for making compotes, jams, for flavoring wines. Unripe fruits are used in the form of seasoning for meat and cooking stews. Candy and other confectionery products are made from cactus stems.

    We will need:

    Meat (in this case, beef), cacti, onions, carrots, chili. Meat with cactus approximately equally, grams of 600.

    Cut everything into cubes:

    Heat the pan and fry beef for 5 minutes over high heat:

    Add onions with carrots, fry on

    When the onions and carrots are sufficiently browned, add cacti and chili:

    Salt, pepper, reduce the fire and simmer under the lid. Minutes 20. Meat is ready? We add some stuff if necessary. The dish is ready.

    Exotic cuisine

    From their homeland, South and North America, edible species of cacti have long ago migrated to European countries, in Asia and the Middle East. They are completely unpretentious, and can be grown both in open field and at home.

    The most popular and the most delicious of them - prickly pear or, as it is called by the people, the Mexican Nopal. It is from it that they prepare many interesting and unusual dishes for our average citizen. It tastes like strawberries.

    For the first time, people in Africa began to eat thorny plants. In the conditions of the desert and the constant shortage of water, they searched for any sources of this precious liquid. And the fleshy leaves were just full of it.

    Mexicans went further, and tasted the fruits of prickly pears, which turned out to be very tasty. As a result, this seemingly useless plant has become one of the main sources of income for Mexicans. Buy it now can be in any supermarket, already cleaned of thorns and ready to cook.

    Prickly but mighty

    In addition to the incredible taste Nopal also has a large set of healing properties. Its juice reduces the level of glucose in the blood, thus being an excellent prevention of diabetes.

    Recently, even drugs based on such fruits that help to fight “harmful cholesterol” and excess sugar in the blood began to appear.

    For those who suffer from hypertension, eating the fruits of the prickly pear will help to somewhat reduce the pressure. And those who lose weight, help in the process of burning excess fat.

    The stems and fruits help with frustration and diarrhea, in their raw form they can even be applied to wounds, because they have a hemostatic and healing effect. And as a result of many studies, it also turned out that small fruits with small needles are an excellent remedy for a hangover.

    Experimenting!

    The simplest version of the dish is fried cakes made from oil from the leaves of prickly pear. These are prepared on trays with street food almost at every turn in the whole of Mexico. But besides this, there is still a lot of original recipes.

    Before you start cooking, you need to prepare the cactus itself. And the main question that worries courageous culinary experimenters - how to clean it from needles?

    One of the most effective ways is to put on thick rubber gloves, put the fruit in cold water for a while, and then rinse thoroughly. The last stage - wipe with a paper towel.

    And what can you cook from a cactus?

    Salad with vegetables

    Perhaps this is the easiest recipe for exotic cuisine. Would need:

    • Nopal - 150 g,
    • Tomato - 1 pc,
    • avocado - ½ pcs,
    • purple onions - ½ pcs
    • cheese - 100 g,
    • vinegar,
    • coriander,
    • sesame.

    Nopal must be pre-cut and fry in butter. Put on a dish with tomato and onion, and drizzle a little vinegar. Sprinkle with coriander and diced cheese.

    Put avocado on top, season with spices and sesame.

    A great option for a hearty lunch or dinner. Habitual meat paired with a particular sourness of a prickly plant is the secret of real gastronomic pleasure. Prepare:

    • steak - 250 g,
    • onions - ½ pcs.,
    • Nopal leaves - 2 pcs.,
    • corn flour cakes,
    • spice.

    Boil the leaves with onions, then fry in butter. Fry the meat with spices, put all the ingredients on flat cakes and sprinkle with spicy sauce.

    Unusual jam

    Surely, you heard about dandelion jam, rose petals. But here we are sure that a few of the edible prickly pear jam have been tried. But nothing is impossible.

    What kinds of cacti are suitable for him? Opuntia, about which we have already spoken, echinocactus or melocacactus.

    In the case of prickly pears, fruits will be needed, while in other plants leaves are used as food.

    • cactus - 1 kg,
    • sugar - 0.5 kg,
    • lemon juice - 100 ml,
    • cinnamon.

    A minimum of ingredients - a maximum of taste. Fruits or leaves should be carefully peeled and soaked in water for 1 hour, then finely chopped. All fill with sugar, add lemon juice and a little cinnamon, leave for half an hour. When the mass starts up the juice, boil it on low heat for 20 minutes, and spread it on the jars.

    Alcohol tincture

    This is what really can surprise guests. In Mexico, from the "prickly pear" is prepared with a dozen different drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. A large amount of fructose helps to actively start the fermentation process, which makes the taste especially rich.

    How to prepare the tincture? For her need:

    • Vodka - 0.5 liters,
    • Nopal - 250 g,
    • sugar - ½ st.,
    • orange juice - 1 tbsp.,
    • carnation
    • cinnamon.

    "Prickly pear" clean and finely chop, add sugar, cloves and cinnamon. Pour in vodka and freshly squeezed orange juice, leave in a warm place. After a day, mix and send in the refrigerator. Infuse the drink will be about 30 days, after which it must be peresedit.

    Exotic and unusual cactus - a tasty and healthy fruit. In many countries, it is eaten on an equal basis with potatoes, added to soups and main dishes, and it also surprises tourists with special desserts and cocktails based on “prickly pear”. We advise you to try these dishes, joining the cuisines of the world. Enjoy your meal!

    Характеристики опунции

    Кактусы — зеленые сочные растения одноименного семейства «Cactacae», легко переносящие засуху. Как правило, кактусы – растения без листьев, но с множеством острых колючек.

    Опунция – род кактусов, объединяющих около трехсот видов растений. Their external features are not similar. There are creeping prickly pears, bush and even tree. The height of such plants can reach six meters. Characteristically, these plants do not have leaves. Basically they take flat oval shoots, which may well pass for the leaves of prickly pears.

    Opuntia blooms with yellow or bright pink flowers, but this feature is not the most characteristic for this plant. That's because there are varieties of cacti that are not flowering at all. But the spines that grow in bunches, or glochidia, perhaps, the only similarity among all varieties of prickly pears.

    At first glance, prickly pear needles seem to be innocuous hairs, but if you touch the almost imperceptible tips of the spines in the shape of a hook, then you will not be good. Hooked hairs break off and stick into skin or clothing without much difficulty.

    The area of ​​distribution of prickly pears, from Canada to South America, is the second reason why this plant is recognized as the leader of all cacti.

    The best part about the prickly pear is its fruit. For example, in Mexico, in the homeland of a cactus, local aborigines use prickly pear for medical purposes, to melt the lesions, as well as eat and quench their thirst.

    There are a number of countries where opuntia is specially cultivated. So, in Italy, cacti are cultivated in Sicily. There, industrial plantations occupy more than 10 thousand hectares of land, and the annual harvest amounts to about 100 thousand tons of prickly pear fruits. Opuntia blooms in May - June. The flowers are large in size, different colors and special brilliance. The main type of cacti, which is bred in Sicily - "Opuntia megakant" (Opuntia megacantha). It is characterized by yellow inflorescences.

    From August to September, as a rule, fruits ripen. However, due to dry summer weather, the fruits are quite small, not more than 100 grams, so they are significantly inferior to those fruits that are obtained during the autumn harvest.

    The second autumn harvest is in October-November. At this time, the fruits ripen larger sizes, the weight of which can reach 250-300 grams. Characteristically, the autumn harvest of prickly pears has more juicy flesh and fewer seeds.

    When does the harvest start? Harvesting begins in the early morning, until the dew is dried on the plants. Another name, which is one of the varieties of cactus - fiki d’Indiy. So, the fruits of the fika are first sorted, laid out on a flat surface, swept with special whisks, and only then they are placed in straw-lined boxes of 20 kg each and sent for storage or sale.

    The fruit of fika d’India has its own characteristics. The diameter of this species reaches 7-10 cm. The shape of the fruit is somewhat like a barrel, only covered with bunches of small and short spines. The flesh has a very pleasant sweet taste, similar to pears or strawberries. The only thing that can spoil this unusual taste is small seeds.

    Italians themselves eat fickey d’India, both fresh and after heat treatment. Some housewives bake cactus fruits in the oven, without removing the skin. Such a delicacy will surely be served with cutlery, with the help of which everyone independently removes the prickly “packaging”.

    Very often, the sweet fruits of the prickly pear are used to make creams and fruit salads. Moreover, one can make jam, jams, jellies, marmalades.

    Like many plants, prickly pear has a number of healing properties. The composition of the green mass of the cactus includes starch, protein, vitamin C, sugar. The stems and fruits of cactus are very effective for diarrhea and other stomach disorders. In some villages, boiled and cut prickly pear shoots are used as poultices and compresses.

    Surprisingly, the unique properties of prickly pears have found application in industry. Since cactus seeds contain approximately 20% edible fat, which is very similar in taste and properties to pork, it has been used to flavor vegetable oils. And the plants themselves are excellent raw materials for the production of pectins, glue, anti-corrosive substances and natural dyes for food.

    How to clean a cactus

    To clean the cactus There are several ways. For example, you can walk on the spines with a small sprig with leaves, or put on thick gloves (preferably leather) and roll a torn segment on the ground, or break off the spines with a wet thick towel.

    The next thing you need to do is to cut a piece from the top and bottom, then make a longitudinal incision and remove the skin. You can also cut the stems into halves and eat juicy pulp with a spoon; you will get a special taste if you sprinkle the cactus pulp with lemon or lime juice.

    How to get rid of spines before? For example, the Indians roasted the fruit on the coals, thus destroying the needles. In addition, they used this plant as a source of moisture, cleaned the stems and chewed the flesh. Young "leaves" were cleaned, cut into small pieces and cooked, or fried, like beans with vegetables. Similarly, in Mexico and in the southwestern United States, prickly pear processes are prepared with vegetables, onions, chili peppers, cheese, eggs, and spices, from which they obtain an excellent taco filling.

    * Taco is a traditional Mexican dish made of corn or wheat tortilla filled with various fillings, such as beef, pork, chicken, seafood, chorizo, beans, vegetables, or cactus leaves.

    What to do with the seeds? Do not rush to throw seeds of prickly pears, they can be useful. It is known that cactus seeds can be fried and eaten, as well as thoroughly dried in the sun and ground into flour, from which very tasty bread is obtained. Oil is obtained from the prickly pear seeds. And from the fleshy dried stems it turns out delicious marmalade and candy. At home, you can make a stunning low-alcohol drink.

    Juice, jelly, syrup and cactus wine

    Take advantage of forceps, with their help, collect the ripe fruits and put them in a bucket. Rinse the fruit thoroughly. Then transfer them to a large pot and pour 2 liters of water there. Put the pot on the fire, bring the water to a boil. As soon as the fruit is softened a little, pierce them with a fork. Through these punctures the juice will flow out.

    When the fruits of the cactus are soft, they need to be crushed and reclined in a colander to glass the water. Juice, in turn, must be filtered, preferably through three layers of gauze.

    Now you can start cooking, for example, jelly. To do this, mix 1 liter of cactus juice with 4 cups of sugar. Put the juice that you have filtered and bring to a boil. Add two sachets of pectin. Do not forget to stir. Cook a little over low heat and remove the pan from the stove. Let the liquid cool. Then pour the liquid in containers and put in the freezer. A little later you can enjoy the pleasant taste of jelly.

    You can cook cactus syrup, which is perfect for pancakes, ice cream, waffles. Syrup is prepared in the same way as jelly, only one bag of pectin per liter of juice is added.

    Cactus wine can be made from 4.5 liters of juice, 8 glasses of sugar. It is also necessary to add a package of yeast. Pour the contents into a dish of sufficiently large volume and place in a cool dark place. After a month you can taste the wine. Only the container should not be closed too tightly, because it can burst.

    Opuntia sorbet

    First, clear the prickly pear, then place the fruit in a blender and whisk well. Strain everything through a fine sieve. For 300 ml of cactus juice you need 125 grams. sugar, which must be dissolved in 250 ml. water.

    Let the mixture boil and cook for 5 minutes. Cool and add juice. The mixture should be frozen in a container, while stirring and breaking ice crystals every 30 minutes. Then send everything to the ice cream machine. Let it thaw a little before serving. Can be served with syrup, chocolate, etc. Here is an amazing plant fica d’India or prickly pear, which can be deliciously enjoyed!

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