How to Get Rid of Cactus Slime
The nopal is a cactus which is a very characteristic plant of Mexico. In fact, it is one of the most representative symbols of the country. Also known as the prickly pear, it has become one of the main crops in the area, as well as one of the bases of its cuisine. The nopal is rich in water, making up of between 90 and 92% of its composition. it is also very nutritious, as it has high amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium and many vitamins.
However, when cooking nopales, we can find a very annoying problem. They produce a characteristic slime. Many people avoid its consumption because when cooking nopales this viscous liquid can become somewhat unpleasant. In this oneHOWTO article we show you how to get rid of cactus slime and the best tips for cooking this nutritious plant.
What is the slime on cactus?
The slime of the nopales is a mucilage that their leaves produce. This viscous substance is produced in the pads of the cactus, which in Mexico are known as pencas. The nopal slime has a consistency very similar to aloe vera, a thick-textured liquid that is extracted by tearing or opening the nopales.
For many people the cactus slime can be unpleasant, but in reality most of the nutrients of this plant are concentrated here. This ingredient is high in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, which is why its consumption is more and more common.
The cactus mucilage slime also helps control cholesterol levels and reduces the amount of glucose in the blood. If you want to discover more about some of the best known properties of the cactus, do not miss this article on how to use nopales for weight loss.
Tricks to remove cactus slime
If the mucilage of the nopales is especially unpleasant to you, don't worry. Here are the best tricks to get rid of the slime from cooking cactus:
With coarse salt
This would be the method to follow if you wonder how to get rid of slime from raw nopales. Using coarse salt we can eliminate that unpleasant viscous liquid that comes off the plant. The procedure is the same as desalting other vegetables, as you might do with aubergines:
- Cut the nopales into pieces of a size to your liking.
- Place them in dish and cover with a decent amount of salt.
- After about 20 minutes to half an hour, remove them and clean them with cold water.
- You will see how the slime comes off easily.
It is the safest and easiest way to remove all the slime from cactus. The only drawback is that it is not suitable for dishes with raw nopal, only in cooked preparations.
- As in the previous trick, leave the nopales to soak in salt for half an hour. After that time, rinse them in plenty of cold water.
- Then cook them in boiling water.
- You will see that the slime continues to come out of the nopales.
Also, you can put them in a pan to fry instead of boiling them. The slime will come off, but don't be alarmed, because it will disappear with the heat in a few minutes.
With bicarbonate of soda
The procedure is very similar to the previous. To remove the slime from the nopales with bicarbonate of soda you will only have to add a tablespoon of this ingredient to the pot with water until it begins to bubble. It is very important that during this step you do not stop stirring the nopales, otherwise the bicarbonate will react and could spill the water from the pot. Once it comes to a boil, cook for 2 minutes and remove from the heat. Rinse the nopales well under a stream of cold water until excess slime is removed.
With vinegar and green tomato
Another traditional and very effective way to remove the drool from nopales is to boil them in water with a splash of white vinegar and some green tomato peels. The method is the same as the previous one, but substituting the bicarbonate for these two ingredients, since to remove the slime from the cooked nopales you will have to strain them in cold water.
How to cook nopales so they are green, but without slime
Nopales are eaten in a thousand ways, from soup to tacos, stews, tamales and juice. They can even be prepared in the form of ice cream or jam. It is a very versatile ingredient that can be used in the kitchen in many ways, since it brings a lot of flavor and texture to many recipes.
However, nopales tend to lose their color intensity when we cook them, acquiring a grayish hue that is unappetizing. So that this does not become a problem, we show you the best way to cook nopales so that they remain green and without slime:
- The first thing you should do is follow the steps in the previous section on how to remove the slime from nopales.
- The difference is in the moment of cooking. The definitive secret so that the nopales do not lose that green color that characterizes them is the material of the pot and the quality of the water.
- Use bottled water to preserve the color of your nopales, as it usually contains fewer chemicals. Also, try to use a copper pot. This material better preserves the properties of the cactus and prevents it from oxidizing and losing its color.
With these simple steps, you will obtain a green and slime-free cooked nopal, ready for you to take advantage of all its benefits in the body and its delicious flavor. If you know how to cook nopales, but want to see other uses for cacti, take a look at our article on the best cactus to have at home.
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