In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you eat Christmas cactus blooms? We will talk about the ways you need to prepare Christmas cacti before you cook them. We will also discuss the ways to care for Christmas cactus and the environment you need to provide it with.
Can you eat Christmas cactus blooms?
You can eat Christmas cactus blooms. Like most cactus blooms, Christmas cactus blooms are not poisonous and can be cooked and eaten.
The Cactaceae family is native to the American continent and comprises more than 2,000 species that are primarily distributed over four diversity centers in arid and semiarid regions. The most important centers of cactus diversity are the north-central region of México through to the southwest of the United States. México, with more than 600 species, of which approximately 80% are endemic, is the most important center of concentrated cactus genera and species (4).
The Christmas cactus blooms and produces colorful fruits. The fruit that holiday cacti produce is edible and beautiful. The Christmas cactus blooms, again and again, every season.
The Christmas cactus is known as Epiphyllum, and the flavor and taste can vary depending on the cultivar and the harvest. The taste of Christmas cactus blooms reminds some people of dragon fruit and others of passion fruit.
Christmas cactus blooms are edible and are cooked before they are eaten. People prefer to eat unopened flower buds, as they are softer and can be eaten readily. The tuna of the nopal cacti are harvested before the blooms open, and before the berry becomes too tough. The edible fruits can potentially be sources of betalains, such as betanin, a natural pigment used in the food industry, e.g., under the European label code E 162. The fruits do not contain any toxic compounds in significant amounts, and they exhibit antioxidant activity (1).
However, some varieties of cactus bloom, taste and cook well after they have completely ripened.
How to cook Christmas cactus blooms?
To harvest flowers of the Christmas cactus, use a stick to shake the berries off the plant. Then remove the glochids or thorns.
The best time to pick cacti (both fruit and pads) for food is in the morning when they will have a more citrus taste. The younger pads are preferred; the older pads have a different, less desirable taste. Younger pads are also easier to peel and to work with. To store prickly pear for further use, the juice or fruits can be frozen. The pads can be sliced and pickled, but cannot be stored fresh in a refrigerator for more than a week (3).
Spread the berries on the ground, and sweep the thorns off using a bunch of stems with weeds or grasses. The thorns stick to the weed, and leave the fruit, making the berries ready to be cooked.
Wash the berries, to get rid of the remaining thorns and peel the skin off. Remove the base and tip of the berries. Stick the fork into the berry and break the skin loose.
Chop the berry into pieces and add to stir-fry the vegetables, including onions, cilantro,
Cook the berries until the tuna becomes tender and malleable. Cook tuna as the slimy juices cook and dry off. You can also add the cooked Christmas cactus to your soup or stew.
How to care for Christmas cactus blooms?
Remember to keep your plant hydrated. After the flowers have bloomed, the plant needs more of your love and care.
During summers keep your Christmas cactus in a shady spot, where the sun rays will not be in direct contact with your plant. The plant should receive moderate sunlight. Try to place the plant near an east-facing window.
Fertilize the Christmas plant no more than once a month. The soil where you plant your Christmas cactus must be rich in humus, potassium, and phosphates.
The cactus can get pests. Bugs and infestation can be removed with rubbing alcohol, without much hassle.
Provide adequate water to the Christmas cactus but do not overwater them. You can tell that Christmas cacti are overwatered if they appear to be wilted and faded.
To nourish your Christmas cactus, provide it with a high-potassium fertilizer every two weeks.
Another important step is to repot your plant every year after it flowers.
How to make your Christmas cactus bloom?
The Christmas cactus blooms at Christmas time. However, the Christmas cactus would not bloom on its own and you will need to play your part in making it happen. The Christmas cactus is sensitive to temperature and the environment.
Start the preparation to make the Christmas cactus bloom 6-8 weeks ahead. The Christmas cactus blooms when days are short and the nights are long. Light can easily interfere with the blooming process of the Christmas cactus.
During the nighttime or the dark period, you need to protect your plant from artificial light. Cover your Christmas cactus during the dark period.
Also, the temperature should remain between 55 to 68 Fahrenheit. A temperature above 68 Fahrenheit will hinder the flowering process.
Also, be sure not to let the Christmas cactus dry out. The flowering period of the Christmas cactus occurs between 4 to 6 weeks, each flower takes a sweet time of 6-9 days to bloom.
After the flowering of the Christmas cactus is complete, keep it under indirect sunlight.
In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you eat Christmas cactus blooms? We talked about the ways you need to prepare Christmas cacti before you cook them. We also discussed the ways to care for Christmas cactus and the environment you need to provide it with.
- Barkociová, Michaela, et al. Betalains in Edible Fruits of Three Cactaceae Taxa—Epiphyllum, Hylocereus, and Opuntia—Their LC-MS/MS and FTIR Identification and Biological Activities Evaluation. Plants, 2021, 10, 2669.
- Peterson, C. Orchid Cactus – Epiphyllums. 2011. University of Oregon
- Bishop, C. Eating Cactus: Prickly pear. University of Nevada
- Pérez-Molphe-Balch, Eugenio, et al. Tissue culture of ornamental cacti. Scien Agric, 2015, 72, 540-561.