The Future is Cactus

According to

We’ll All Be Eating Cactus in the Future Thanks to Climate Change
by Katie Valentine

…the prickly pear cactus, a humble plant that, according to a new book co-published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, can serve as a lifesaving crop for many countries…

“It’s actually a fairly amazing crop that can grow in most dry areas of the world,” Makiko Taguchi, a cactus expert at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, told Earther. “And the dry areas of the world are expanding in some places.”

Oh, and it’s delicious!

Prickly Pear Margarita


coarse salt as needed
2 fluid ounces tequila
2 fluid ounces sweet and sour mix

1 fluid ounce triple sec
1 fluid ounce lime juice
1 fluid ounce prickly pear syrup

Click thru to see the rest of the instructions.

Dragonfruit Recipe

I found this delicious Dragonfruit Sherbet recipe from our local Berkeleyside!

It’s been a very hot weekend (Record heat throughout Berkeley, San Francisco and Oakland? Yes!) so it’s what you want. Right now.

Incredibly addictive, this sherbet offers a celebration of refreshing and complementary flavor in every spoonful. The cool dragon fruit is faintly milky, citrusy and herbal with its gentle infusion of lemongrass. Meanwhile, the strawberry layer offers a hint of tartness and a welcome trace of classic berry sweetness.

Dragon Fruit Sherbet with Lemongrass and Strawberry

Makes about a quart

1 1/2 ounces (about 1 1/2 stalks, depending on size) fresh lemongrass
3/4 cup canned light coconut milk (not full-fat)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces fresh ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light, somewhat neutral liquor of your choice, at least 80 proof (think vodka, light rum or a clear fruit brandy)
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds dragon fruit (about 3 medium dragon fruit)

As always, click through for the full instructions.

Delicious Prickly Pear Fruit

That is some delicious looking large red cactus fruit, aka Tunas, Prickly Pears, Sabras, nōchtli and more names! This is on one of our larger Opuntia robusta plants. When they get in the ground they can produced a lot of fruit, just for you if that’s what you want, or for all your neighbors and friends too, if you have neighbors and friends. I always prefer to eat my prickly pears by blending them in with my margaritas. Delicious, and healthy!

Prickly Pear Margarita Recipe
Using Prickly Pear Juice
Restaurant Cocktail Recipe

Preparation time: 3 minutes. Serves 1


2 ounces Tequila
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce prickly pear juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau
Lime slice for garnish
Kosher salt

Instructions: Click through for the rest of the instructions!
Note that I always leave off the salt, because that’s just the way I prefer my margaritas, without salt.

Cactus Cookies


Doris made Cactus Cookies for her holiday party. Delicious!

Cactus Recipe

And just in time for the holiday. The one that is coming up this week, not the one coming up next month. Although it is in time for that holiday too.

Tom’s Pricklypear Cactus and Cranberry Jelly

I have a large pricklypear cactus growing outside my back door. Most years… it produces large numbers of dark pruple-red fruits. I make these into either jelly or syrup, depending on whether it sets or not. This year, I turned my less bountiful harvest into a variation on cranberry sauce–the jellied kind….

24 or so ripe pricklypear cactus fruits
1 bag fresh cranberries.
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 box pectin
3 cups sugar

Click through for the full instructions.

And who is this Tom and why should we follow his recipe? He’s Tom Fitzmorris of WWL AM870, a talk radio fixture in the Gulf South Region with a food show. On the radio! I trust him. I really do.

Eat Your Cactus

Orange County has a lot of prickly pear cactus growing, so the local newspaper, the OC Register, recommends you eat your share of the delicious green vegetable. Not only do they say it’s delicious, but it’s rich in anti-oxidants too. So it must be good!

cactus grill

Strips of grilled cactus leaves taste delicious combined with pepper jack cheese on an open-faced sandwich.

You won’t be able to read the whole article unless you are a OC Register subscriber, which I am not. So I haven’t been able to verify that there recipes are worth the effort. But the picture looks good.

Cactus Salsa

Cactus fruit salsa
By Betty Cortina, NBC Latino

It isn’t every day you discover an entirely new ingredient, something you had no idea existed let alone tasted this good. But that’s exactly what happened to us, the NBC Latino crew, while we attended the Culinary Institute of America’s Latin Flavor, American Kitchens conference last week in San Antonio.

It happened when we stepped into the kitchen with Roberto Santibañez, the chef-owner of New York’s Fonda restaurants (in Brooklyn and Manhattan) and author of “Truly Mexican” and the soon-to-be released “Tacos, Tortas and Tamales.” First, he taught us to call the ingredient by its name: xoconostle. (Pronounced: choko-nose-leh.) It is, he went on, the fruit of the cactus plant and similar to a prickly pear, which in recent years has grown in popularity, its sweet flesh often used to flavor margaritas. But the xoconostle is sour and tart instead and typically used to make salsas in Mexico.

Interesting! I wonder what that is. I’ve never heard that name for a cactus fruit. But first the recipe:

Salsa de xoconostle/cactus fruit salsa

1 pound xoconostles (about 9)
2 small dried chipotle chiles, or 5 dried árbol chiles, wiped clean
1 medium garlic clove, peeled
Kosher salt, to taste

Simple! Click through for the instructions.

And now, for your fun and kicks, the xoconostle is the fruit from the Opuntia joconostle. It looks similar to tunas, but it tastes different, and most importantly the seeds are all grouped in the center rather than spread throughout the flesh.


Recipe Time

Today we seem to have a breakfasty like recipe, featuring suasages and eggs and cactus too.

This is the link to the recipe, but the site seems to be down right now, so maybe you can click it later and see if it’s back up and working.

Boy, this is some lazy blogging from your lazy cactus blogger.

The Internets are Interesting

For instance, did you know you can make up things and then go looking on the internets and find out that the thing you made up actually exists?

Like a Cactus Peeler.


Cactus Peeler (Pelador de Nopales) 1 Unit

La Mexicana Cactus Peeler (Pelador de Nopales) makes it easier for you to peel cactus for your nopalitos! La Mexicana products are made with full analysis of designs and compatability to serve you with comfort in your cooking lifestyle.

I’m guessing you would use it for a recipe like this:

Nopalitos with Tomatoes and Onions Recipe

  • 1 lb nopalitos, nopales prickly pear cactus paddles that have been stripped of spines, cleaned, and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper

As per usual, click through the recipe link to see the instructions that go along with it.

You should try it. (Not the recipe, or the peeler, which you should also try, but I mean make something up and then search online for it and see what it gets you.)

Cactus Soap

So now we’ve hit the true test of our ability to run a retail plant nursery. We are now making our own cactus products. Or product – in this case soap. Cactus Soap!

That’s Olive Oil soap – no glycerin or other fillers – from locally sourced organic certified olives. Plus real prickly pear fruit, and three different scents: Peppermint with Mint Leaves; Grapefruit, Lemongrass with Oatmeal; and Clove and Apricot Kernel, in a thick 5.3oz bar.

See the thing is, there are lots of fancy glycerin soaps out there, but it’s tough to find a top quality pure soap, hand or facial. So we made it ourselves.

Now someone else can post on their blog all about the silly cactus soap they found at the Cactus Jungle. Hah!

(For reference, see my now-ironic posts about cactus soap and cactus costume (on a hedgehog!) and Cactus Glasses and Cactus Candy).

I suck!

Leaves or Stems

Prickly pears are delicious. Atlantans eat them too.

If you’re enjoying a cactus pad salad, are you eating leaves or are you eating stems? Just looking at a pad, it’s hard to know. I’m talking about the fleshy oval pads of Opuntia, the prickly pear cactus, also known as the Indian fig for its rosy oblong fruits.

Stems or leaves, leaves or stems. Hmmmm. Stems? Leaves?

Nice, and it turns out there’s a class for cactus salad prep in Atlanta coming up.

9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 7. Chef Ron Eyester, Rosebud. Morningside Farmers Market, Atlanta.

Papago Cactus Salad
Hands on: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6

And finally, the answer that you may have been waiting for, but probably not….


Holiday Cake Recipe

It’s not cactus flavored. But it is a Flowering Cactus Cake.

PRICKLY as it might appear, this dessert from the desert is one your guests will get their hands on in a hurry!

Click through for more puns and the whole recipe. In case you were wondering but didn’t want to click through, the spines are licorice. Yum.

Weekend Blogging

I think I will do a new feature here on the cactus blog, and I’ll call it weekend blogging because it’s the weekend here on my blog.

This feature will feature many different small pictures of things. With Links.


It’s a picture of prickly pear pads for a recipe for Huaraches – Stuffed Prickly Pear Cactus Paddles. It features manchego cheese, so you know it has to be good.

Happy Weekend, all!

Chicken and Cactus Tacos

Are now available throughout the country, or at least at the few restaurants that will be carrying them.

This month’s taco is from Michael Kornick…. His Tacos Nopalitos y Pollo is available at Mercadito locations in Miami, New York, and Chicago until November 30.

If you can’t get over there in time, don’t worry, here’s the recipe.

24 thin corn tortillas 4-inches to 5-inches in diameter
Oil to warm on the griddle

1 fresh Nopalitos cactus
2 cups rich chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 oz. olive oil

1 pound of chicken breast
2 cups rich chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
2 Serrano chiles minced
½ cup sliced onions
½ tsp cracked black pepper
Salt to taste

6 medium tomatillos
Oil to grill
Salt and pepper

½ cup chiffonade cilantro
¼ cup minced red onion
½ Serrano chili minced (no seeds)
6 lime wedges

That is a long list of ingredients. You’ll have to click through for the instructions.

They sure look good.

Google to the Rescue

What if you wanted a cactus banana smoothie? Who would you turn to for a recipe? Your mother? Your Uncle Saul? Sammie from the corner market?


You’d turn to your friendly local google. My friendly local google told me to check out Incredible Smoothies and there we go.

It’s not a complicated recipe. The directions are not complicated either. You can click through to read the whole description, but here’s the primary part you were looking for.

Cactus Pear and Banana Smoothie Recipe

1 banana
1 cactus pear, flesh and meat, seeds removed
4 oz filtered of water

Add all the ingredients to your blender, (I use a Blendtec) and blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.

Indeed, that seems easy enough. I wonder how they took care of the spines on the cactus pear?

Cactus Fest '11

We missed the Santa Cruz Cactus Festival again this year. I’m sure it proved to be delicious. It was last weekend.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel hasn’t posted the winners online yet, but they did post this Nopales Salad recipe for us to share with you so you could enjoy it.


2 medium nopale pads, cleaned
1 tablespoon Spanish (or other fruity) olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoon finely chopped Maui onion
1 teaspoon finely minced roasted garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced serrano chile
2 tablespoons finely minced red brll pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoon queso fresco

1. Slice nopales into thin strips. Saute in olive oil till just browned, but not soft.
2. When cool, toss with other ingredients. Add more lime , if necessary.
3. Serve in a chilled bowl, or iceberg lettuce cups, or on a crisp tortilla. Sprinkle with queso fresco.

Cheryl Marquez grows her own cactus for nopales dishes at her Tortilla Flats restaurant in Soquel (Dan Coyro/Sentinel)

Cactus Margarita

From Epicurious.

4 prickly pears, peeled
4 ounces tequila
1 1/2 ounces triple sec
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
Coarse-grained salt for rimming (optional)
Lime slices for garnish (optional)

That does seem like the basic set of ingredients for a cactus margarita. For sugar, I would use agave syrup. You’ll have to click through for the directions on how to peel a prickly pear and what to mix together too.

Grilled Nopales

Earlier today I blogged a link to a cactus recipe.

Here’s a delicious looking recipe for grilled cactus that you can now make on your cactus-briquette-fired grille.

I thought the photo looked so delicious that I should blog the recipe. Here goes!

Grilled Cactus Paddles (Nopales Asados)
Makes enough for 24 taquitos or serves 12 (side dish)
Start to finish:20 min

Cactus paddles (nopales or nopalitos) are an important vegetable in Mexico, particularly in the central and west-central parts of the country. Their flavor—reminiscent of summer’s green beans but with a hint of acidity—adds freshness and succulence to the taquitos.

  • 12 cactus paddles (nopales or nopalitos)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

You’ll have to click through for the instructions, but I would highly recommend it.

Cole Slaw Recipe

Cactus slaw without cabbage? You do have roast the nopales, so I don’t really know if you could call this a slaw, plus they don’t have a dressing.

Makes 4 servings

4 cactus Leaves
1 jicama
1 chili seeded and finely diced
1 orange, peeled and diced
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped

Seems like a simple enough recipe.

Click through for the instructions.

Cooking with Cactus Video Blog

Chef Michael shows you how.

I haven’t tried this recipe, so I don’t know if it’s any good. In fact, I haven’t even watched the video – I hate cooking shows – so I don’t even know anything about anything here, except this is the description that goes along with it, so I figure what the heck – have at it.

Chef Michael Flores show how to make his Cactus and Cabbage Salad.

Prickly Pear Season

Greenwalla recommends you go out and eat some cactus fruit RIGHT NOW!

Cactus Pear: (or Prickly Pear)

A lot of people have never tried a cactus pear, but it is a delicious fruit! Look for cactus pears that do not have any dark spots on them, you can wash them and keep them in the refrigerator for seven days. The best way to eat them is to dice them up, eat it plain or use it as a topping for a salad, cereal or soy yogurt. They can be tricky to prepare, here is a short video on how to peal one.

See, they think it’s delicious too. It’s not just me. They’re also called Tunas.

[Pedanticism warning:] Bells peal, fruit peels.

Cactus Salad

The Mayan Cafe in Louisville makes a very attractive and delicious looking cactus salad.

It’s not currently on the menu, but maybe they’ll bring it back for spring.

Besides a bit of grilled cactus, I see arugula and tomato and cheese, all tossed in a light vinaigrette. Am I missing anything in there?

Cactus Martini

Did you watch that? What a ripoff – there’s no cactus in that martini. I don’t know what that crap is. Oh well, drink up and Happy Holidays.

We Get Questions

Dear Cactus Blog,

I’ve got an Opuntia that is growing too fast, and my husband is worried about our 4 month old baby get stuck with the spines.

I said we should wait until the baby can walk before worrying, but my husband thinks we should get rid of the plant entirely right now. What should we do?

Stuck in the Suburbs

Dear SITS,

Unless your husband is propping the baby up against the cactus while he’s off fixing his evening cocktail, you shouldn’t have to worry about the baby getting stuck at this young age.

As the baby gets older, I would recommend keeping the prickly pear well trimmed back so that there aren’t any wild spiny pads attracting the attentions of your inevitably wandering toddler. In fact, if you cook the freshly cut pads and feed them to your family, it’s a win-win.

Use this recipe for a healthy and happy family life for years to come:

Scrambled Nopales

  • 1 or 2 cactus pads
  • 8 Eggs
  • 1/4 lb. of cheese (your choice)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Prepare the cactus pads as described in the preparation section above. Once you have removed the needles, nodules and thoroughly washed the pads, slice into bite-size pieces. Sauté the sliced pads in a small amount of butter for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl; add shredded cheese and the sautéed cactus pieces. Pour the egg mixture into a skillet and scramble. Serve warm with salt and pepper to taste.


I made my prickly pear martini, did you? And if I may say so, its delicious.


Prickly Pear Martini

My own recipe. This is the first recipe I have ever posted that I came up with myself. Usually, I forget to write these things down, and then forget what I did.

3/4oz. Grey Goose Vanille
3/4oz. Limoncello
1/2oz. Club Soda
1 Med. Puréed/Juiced Fresh Prickly Pear
1 Teaspoon Organic Blue Agave Syrup
2 Dashes Dry Vermouth

As this is a martini, you should probably mix it in a shaker with ice and serve it straight up.

Cactus Fruit Video

Interesting look at the Pitaya market and new varieties being developed to be tastier and use even less water. These are from the night-blooming Hylocereus from Central America, although the Pitaya name can also be applied to many different cactus fruit. The more common name around here is Dragon Fruit.

The most interesting part is the difficulties with pollinating a night-blooming plant when it’s been taken out of it’s native habitat, away from it’s night-pollinator.

Maybe I should add a margarita recipe to this post. What do you think?

Well, this is what I found:

Red Dragon Cocktail

*Vanilla Vodka
*Stawberry Liqueur
*Dragon fruit
*Vanilla syrup

You should click through for the instructions, but the instructions are really just to pour it all together and stir. Easy enough.

From Alex’s Cocktails in the UK.

Cactus Recipe

Dinner is for cactus. (And duck, too, obviously).

Oh my god this sounds good. If anyone wants to make this for me, I pay in rebutia.

duck cakes with nopalito cactus sauce

Measure Ingredient
1 Whole duck
2 Yellow onions; thinly sliced
2 Red onions; thinly sliced
1 bunch Leeks; thinly sliced
1 bunch Green onions; thinly sliced
8 Whole eggs
Salt and pepper
Clarified butter; for frying
3 Strips bacon
3 tablespoons Onion; chopped
2 cups Nopales; cleaned and diced
1 teaspoon Garlic; chopped
3 tablespoons Vinegar; (rice, herb, pepper
; and fruit)
4 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Chili paste
2 Limes, juice of

Don’t forget to click through for the instructions. No pictures, though. Video would be helpful too, considering what you have to do to the duck.

February 2024

US Constitution


We Get Questions

Email your questions to:

blog [at] cactusjungle [dot] com