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Opuntia Cactus

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Nopalitos - Cacti

Tender cactus pads (nopalitos) may be blanched for a few minutes and then used in a variety of dishes. Once blanched they may be cooled and then placed in freezer bags and placed in freezer for later use. If a cactus dish is to be cooked (unlike a salad), the nopalitos may be cooked alongside the other ingredients without need for blanching.

Prickly Pear Juice Extraction

1. Collect prickly pear (tunas) with kitchen tongs or leather gloves.

2. Rinse tunas in water to clean out insects and dirt.

3. Place tunas in freezer.

4. Get container which will hold the juice.

5. Place frozen tunas on cheesecloth over a colander.

6. Place the container under the colander.

7. As the tunas thaw, the juice will flow down into the container.

8. Use the juice in your favorite recipe.

9. Do other chores while the tunas are thawing!!!!

by J T Garcia at a Texas Cactus Council meeting.
See TCC Cookbook for links to Prickly Pear Juice Recipes: cookbook.php

Cactus boosts the body's immunization antiviral properties, fights herpes, HIV, obesity, gastro-intestinal disorders, skin ailments, fights cholesterol - - - all this obtained by the consumption of cactus. The following are additional values of cactus:

The Healing Properties of Cacti

Nutritional Values of Cacti:

  • Vitamin and mineral content
  • Potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin A &C
  • Amino acids
  • High-quality source of protein
  • 8 essential amino acids
  • Fiber source
  • Found in the mucilage: “sticky juice”


    Diabetes - The fruit and stems are used as a primary anti-diabetic herb by managing blood sugar levels for adult-set type 2 diabetes.
  • Poultice and ointment - Skin sores, burns, rashes, insect bites, muscle and arthritis pain. Can be used like aloe by slicing open the pad, heating and applying to the area needing attention. 
  • Homeopathy - Spleen and diarrhea.

Want to know more?

The book: PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS MEDICINE, by Ran Knishinsky has everything about treatment for Diabetes, Cholesterol, and the Immune System. Get it at your local library or your favorite bookstore. Or go on the Internet and search for “prickly pear cactus medicine”.

“The Healing Properties of Cacti” was an excellent presentation for TCC members and guests at the March 2006 meeting by Ms. Nancy Gonzalez, a Freer High School Biology teacher and our newest TCC member.


Health Benefits of Cactus

 For over 7,000 years fresh Nopal has been consumed for its many nutritional qualities, only recently in the last 20 years has science truly been interested in the investigation of this remarkable medicinal plant. Nopal  Verde (opuntia-indica)  or green Nopal, the only edible type has recently been recommended in a vast array of circulation, heart and digestive disorders. Below are a  number of the most recent findings.

Colon Cleansing:
Treatment and Prevention of Colon Cancer

Nopal contains both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers.  The insoluble dietary fiber in Nopal (more commonly known as roughage), absorbs water and gently hastens food through the digestive track and contributes to regular bowel movements.  In addition the presence of insoluble fibers in the colon help to dilute the concentration of potential carcinogens that may be present.  Soluble fibers also contribute to regularity.  Furthermore NOPAL is a gentle alternative to psyllium for those with a sensitivity or allergy to psyllium.

Nopal Powder has rapidly become one of the principal forms for consuming Nopal in many countries around the world. The reason for this is three fold:

1.)The ever increasing international demand  no longer makes it feasible to transport vast quantities of fresh Nopal by air or sea.

2.)  Customer preference in consumption requires a more pharmaceutical  approach to packaging for wider acceptance

3.)  Shelf life and nutritional value are extended through the dehydration process .