Salads and sautes are not the first things you will think about when you hear the word succulents. In fact, food will be the farthest from your mind. All you’ll probably think about is draining soil, terra cotta pots, pebbles, fertilizers, and propagation. Food is not synonymous with succulents, unfortunately, in this side of the world. But in farther south, where President Donald Trump plans to build his wall, succulent are delicious additions to their dinner fare.
Ever wonder how succulents taste like? Want to try how edible and healthy these are? Here are the top five edible succulents that you can turn into delicious salads, soups, and main courses:
If you have ever looked at an old Western movie and wondered what those ubiquitous plants in the background are called, that’s the Saguaro. But this is more than just a desert decoration. The night-blooming white flowers, which are the state flower of Arizona, produce greenish-pink fruits whose bright red pulp and black seeds have a sweet and nutty flavor. Tribes from Arizona and the Mexican people have used the Saguaro to make sweet jams, syrups, and ceremonial wines.
Rich in fiber, vitamin C, and B12, Saguaro can be chopped and turned into salads or biscuits.
Also called the “nopales” in Mexico and the many Mexican restaurants scattered all over the country, the Opuntia has a flavor similar to green beans though with a slightly chewy texture. It produces a fruit called tuna in Mexico but known as the prickly pear stateside, tastes like a mix of bubblegum and watermelon. The flat oval leaves of the Opuntia can be chopped and made into salads, soups, salsa, and tacos while the fruit can be peeled and sliced and eaten raw or juiced.
The leaves are rich in fiber and calcium, and it’s just 23 calories per cup. The fruit is high in vitamin C.
Also known as sedums, Stonecrops have up to 600 species of plants. The leaves have a peppery and mildly bitter flavor that’s perfect for salads and stir-fry. If you want to eat these, make sure to take them in moderation because large quantities can upset the stomach. They are best used for stir-fry. The red-flowering sedum leaves, stems, and tubers are safe to eat raw while the yellow-flowering sedums need to be cooked because of a mild toxicity.
Stonecrops can relieve coughs and can lower blood pressure. It is also known for being applied to burns, cuts, hemorrhoids, and eczema.
4. Sea Beans
Scientifically called the Salicornia, Sea Beans grow on salt marshes and sandy beaches. Over the last years, they have grown popular among gourmet chefs. The flavor is similar to asparagus, so you can either eat it raw or pan-fry it. If you want to mellow out the intense sea salt flavor, you can blanch it in hot water.
Sea Beans are high in protein, iron, calcium, and iodine.
5. Dragon Fruit
Who knew Dragon Fruit came from a cactus? These fruits come from a night-blooming cactus known as the queen of the night. Their appearance may be striking but the flavor is very mild, almost like a bland melon. To eat it, you can scoop out the pulp and turn it into a smoothie or shake.
The Dragon Fruit is low in calories and packs protein, fiber, vitamin C, iron, and calcium.