Give your typical pickled cactus a sweet makeover in the comforts of your own kitchen! If you're like me whose taste buds are almost tied to pickled goodies, this recipe is a must-try!
Pickled Cactus Recipe with a Sweet Twist
I love all types of pickles including the pickled cactus strips available in the stores. However, with all of the cactus I have growing at home, I decided that it was time to start pickling my own. And I really, really wanted to try something in a sweet type of brine, which I was unable to find in the stores.
After a little trial and error, I came up with this brine that has worked well, and my cactus strips still stay firm with a little crisp to them. So, if you grow or have access to cactus paddles, here is a recipe that is worth trying. And if the brine isn't quite your taste, go ahead and tinker with it to come up with the flavor that hits your taste buds. Or if you have your own favorite brine, you can use that too! Just follow the part of the recipe for cleaning the paddles, then switch to your own. It makes 2-pint sized jars of pickles.
Ingredients for savory sweet pickled cactus:
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar (I used organic, non-pasteurized)
- 1/8 cup sea salt
- 1 ¼ cup white sugar (raw sugar may be used but can change the overall flavor)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon mustard seed
- 4 small to medium sized cactus paddles, cut into ½” strips (directions follow recipe for cleaning)
- 6-8 whole cloves of garlic
How to make the sweet brine mixture
Step 1: In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, salt, sugar, honey, 1 cinnamon stick, turmeric and mustard seed. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then allow to cook for 5 additional minutes.
Step 2: Loosely pack the cactus strips (or the equivalent) along with 3-4 garlic cloves and 1 cinnamon stick into 2-pint jars (or the equivalent). Pour the hot brine over the cactus. Cover and let cool then refrigerate.
How to clean the cactus paddles
Step 1: Use paddles that are bright green. The smaller you can get, the more tender, however, larger paddles may be used.
Step 2: Carefully remove spines. You can scrape, but I prefer to cut them out. Cut off the entire edge of paddles and at least 1” off of the bottom. Rinse under cool water to remove any leftover scrapings.
Step 3: Place the paddles in a small colander and place the colander in a non-reactive bowl and liberally toss with sea salt (kosher works well too). Let stand at least one hour. Rinse thoroughly and repeat.
Step 4: Slice paddles into 1/2” strips, salt and let sit once again for ½ an hour to 1 hour. Rinse thoroughly. Pat dry.
NOTE: Tossing the paddles with salt will allow some of the moisture to escape as well as help in getting rid of some, but not all of, the natural slime that the paddle excretes when cut. (The slime IS NOT harmful to eat, however, some find it a little off setting.)
If you're wondering how pickled cactus tastes like, hit the play button and watch this video:
Isn't this recipe easy to make? What's even healthier about this recipe is you have an option to go for organic ingredients and have it flavored the way you want it to be. No wonder I keep using this recipe!
Have you tried making your own pickled cactus? Let us know your kitchen secrets in the comments below!
Aside from pickled cactus, are you looking for more recipes for your family and friends? Check out these homemade nut milk recipes for a healthy dairy substitute!