Identification: Cactus as produce

Discussion in 'Cacti and Succulents' started by Junglekeeper, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    Which kind of cactus is sold in produce stores as 'cactus leaves' or 'cactus pads'? Is there more than one kind?
     
  2. togata57

    togata57 Contributor

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    Opuntia, mainly. Maybe others but that's the common one here. Paddles sold in jars (pickled?) and fresh in the produce section.
    From what I gather, the paddles are Nopales, and the fruit at the ends of the paddles are Xoconostle.

    Edible Cacti And Succulents

    Xoconostle Cactus Fruit

    Nopal - Wikipedia
    prickly-pear-555530__340.jpg
    Image from Pixabay free images
     
  3. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    So basically there's no way to know what one is buying when it's given a nondescript name at the store. Surely there would be differences in taste between the various species. I'm confused.
     
  4. togata57

    togata57 Contributor

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    Opuntia is it, apparently.
    Now, if you could track down the company selling these products---yeah maybe you could find out more (or any) details.
    Looks as if 'cactus' is a generic term.

    Here is this:
    Dona Maria Nopalitos 30 oz. | Meijer.com
    ---which helpfully lists ingredients...one of which is 'tender cactus'.

    And this:
    https://www.kroger.com/p/prickly-cactus-pear/0000000004255
    ---which is even less informative!

    Sorry, Jk...advise you seek out your local ethnic grocery and chat with the staff, who might be able to unearth a crate label with a company name/address---or better yet know the ins and outs of edible cactus ID!

    Good Luck in your search! When I go to the store later this week I will look for cactus---I KNOW I have seen them from time to time, in the fresh produce section with dragon fruit, jicama etc. Once I was stunned to see a DURIAN displayed---I stopped in my tracks and shouted WHOA!!! (Surprisingly, I was not escorted from the building!) Seeing one of these in moderately bland central Ohio is an exciting event!
    Will keep you posted on any new info discovered.
     
  5. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Here is a page that describes 15 species, doesn't identify particular ones for eating.
    Prickly Pear Cactus - DesertUSA
    Curiously, it links to a page on its site, Prickly Pear Cactus Sweets and Treats - DesertUSA, that says "the non-native Opuntia megacantha is one of the tastiest and most popular", but that's not a species listed on the linking page.
    Also curiously, Wikipedia says "The most common culinary species is the Indian fig opuntia (O. ficus-indica)", but that also isn't a species listed on the desertusa page. The https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/prickly-pear.html page seems to second that, saying "edible fruits [are] usually gathered from commercially grown Opuntia ficus-indica species".
     
  6. togata57

    togata57 Contributor

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    OK...I become more, not less, confused. Jk, I feel ya.

    What I read earlier (see above) led me to believe that Xoconostle were the fruits (or fruit-like appendages...? Correct terminology here?---You there, RonB?) found at the ends of Nopales lobes.
    Uh, well, THIS page states that Xoconostle is a synonym for Opuntia matudae!
    Opuntia matudae - Wikipedia

    Got onto that page from this one, which is interesting...I had no idea that there were this many EDIBLE cacti!
    List of edible cacti - Wikipedia
     
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  7. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    My original post mentioned only the pads but it also applies to the tuna (the technical term for the fruit). My point is: If the produce is sourced from different species of cacti, which apparently vary in taste, why is there no indication of the variety when it's sold? Wouldn't the consumer want to know exactly what it is that they're buying?
     
  8. wcutler

    wcutler Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    It seems, according to the last two pages I mentioned, that the produce is sourced from commercially grown Opuntia ficus-indica. I have just read two additional sources that say this is the commercially harvested species. Here is yet another: A Prickly Question: Could Cactus Be the Next Kale? - Modern Farmer. All those others are wild plants that are also edible, but it doesn't seem likely that they would end up on your grocery shelf in Vancouver.
     
  9. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    If that is the case then it makes sense. Even though there are cultivars producing fruit of different color they'll all be of the same species. So, the person in the thread, Looking for Prickly Pear, looking for a source for the edible prickly pear can simply buy a fruit for the seed or a pad and root it.

    I was thinking of buying a fruit to sample but the clerk said the taste was rather bland. The fruit was also mostly green unlike the colorful ones seen in the photos. (I don't recall ever seeing colorful ones in the stores.)
     
  10. vitog

    vitog Well-Known Member

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    My read of Web info on this topic leads me to believe that there are two main types of Prickly Pear fruit. The usual one, called tuna in Spanish and prickly pear in English is typically produced by Opuntia ficus-indica. The other one, called xoconostle (or joconostle) in Spanish and sour prickly pear in English, is the fruit of O. matudae. As indicated by the English name, the latter is more sour than the former and is much less common in grocery stores.
     
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  11. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    I saw these pads in a store today. It should be fairly easy to propagate plants using them as they appear to in pretty good condition. So if someone wants a prickly pear plant this is a cheap way to get one.

    20180406_174411.jpg
     

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