A Delicatessen For Mexican Food Lovers: Nopales In A Jar

Last Updated on November 1, 2021 by Guillermina

Nopales in a jar might be a well-kept secret for foreigners but certainly not for Mexican people.

Since the arrival of the first settlers in Mesoamerica, as well as for the ancient Mexicans, the nopal has been a very important source of food. This is in large part due to its prevalence throughout the continent but also to the ease of propagation of its stalks. There are many people who eat nopales on a regular basis. Nopales provide a wide array of nutritional benefits, either through the stalk or its prickly pear, which when ripe is like a turgid and sweet fruit. 

In Mexican gastronomy, nopalitos are generally consumed in salad mixed with different ingredients. These include tomato, onion, cheese, coriander, chili peppers, among many others, which makes for a very healthy and energizing dish. Both for its level of fiber and types of polysaccharides, it is important to continue promoting its consumption in different dishes. You can consume them boiled, roasted, canned, or even occasionally pickled.

In Mexico, nopal lovers get very used to keeping jarred nopales in a kitchen cabinet. Thus, they may enjoy them whenever they feel like it.

How To Cook Nopales From A Jar

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To cook nopales, there are two steps to follow. Firstly, you have to sterilize the jars and then cook the nopales so that they are ready for proper storage in a jar. You need to get rid of their thorns. The best way to do this is by scrapping the nopal with a knife. Then, wash them very well. You can cut into squares for the purpose of making a salad or mixing it with cuts of steak. If you´re planning to prepare breaded nopales or grill them, it´s better to leave the leaf as a whole. 

In order to achieve a real richness, boil the nopales with garlic, pepper, and salt. For an even more distinguished flavor, you can also season them to your liking with oregano as well as onion, carrot, and other vegetables.

After the first boil, leave them be for a few more minutes and remove them from the fire. You don´t need to boil any longer because you are also going to place them in a bain-marie for about 10 minutes. So, if they boil a lot, they can be very watery. The nopales are read when they are tender. 

Once they are cold, you can put them in an jar. Keep the liquid as this will ensure that your nopalitos remain smooth and tasty.

Health Properties Of Jarred Cactus

It is quite common for doctors in Mexico to recommend that people eat more nopal for a number of reasons. Nopales reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, due to their high calcium content. The largest nopal stalks contain the most calcium. The presence of dietary fiber helps to dilute the concentration of potentially cancer cells. Due to its high levels of antioxidants, it helps fight free radicals that age the skin.

And there is more.

The amino acids and the fibers contained in the nopal act together with antioxidant effects. Both the consumption of the nopal and the application of topical products derived from the nopal leaves have beneficial effects on wounds and infections of the skin.

Tips And Tricks Of Canned Cactus Recipes

One thing that makes nopal so wonderful is that it is so versatile and it goes with a wide assortment of foods. The boiled nopales can be prepared in different ways the same as fresh nopales. They are ideal for salads, or as a garnish.

 how to cook nopales from a jar

A nutritious and fresh salad with nopalitos also includes onion, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and crumbled cheese. You can always add slices of avocado to enhance the refreshing flavor. If you’re in a hurry, you can place bits of this salad on a tortilla, and savor the contrast textures of the fresh vegetables and the dry corn.

They are also ideal if you do not have much time but want a healthy recipe. There is nothing more refreshing, and healthier than a delicious nopales salad with tuna.

You can also add the nopalitos in a jar to different guisados. They taste great with guisados de res adding a fresh and soft texture that will take the guisado to a new level. Nopalitos are also a great garnish for tacos. So, it is not surprising that customers ask señoras to add nopalitos to their order of tacos in all vending stands in Mexico,

The truth is that the versatility of this food makes it ideal for many dishes, for example, you can prepare a nopal soup before the main course or you can even put them in vegetarian and meat tamales.

Once you take the nopalitos from the jar, make sure that you eat them right away. They tend to become a bit dry all too soon. And you want them to taste fresh and juicy.


Pickling culture has boomed in the past decade for a number of reasons. This makes sense as it isn’t only a great way to make our foods more flavorful, but also more readily available for whenever we get hungry. This is why if you do have the time, you should at least try to jar nopales when you can. You never know which meals they will end up transforming for the better. 

It’s a great thing when you can add this pop of freshness to something that you’re preparing or eating that you find to be quite dry and in need of a certain moistness. This is especially true regarding your breakfast and lunch. Nopales combine perfectly with scrambled eggs and steak. However, as they can be a little hard on the stomach, people tend not to have them for dinner, especially if you go to bed early.

All in all, nopales in a jar are rich and tasteful for that will compliment your most favorites Mexican and non-Mexican dishes.

Read more about Yummy, Yummy: How To Make Churros With Filling

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