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What is the biznaga and why is it in danger of extinction?

24 mayo, 2021

The biznaga It is a plant belonging to the cactus family, very easy to recognize because it has a globular shape and is one of the most emblematic cacti in Mexico.

Unfortunately, this species is in danger of extinction, as it has been used immoderately for gastronomic purposes. We explain.

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Why is the biznaga protected in Mexico?

Surely you have heard about acitrón, a traditional sweet that is part of a great diversity of Mexican dishes, including chiles en nogada and rosca de reyes.

The acitrón is prepared with the pulp of the biznaga, which is peeled and cut into blocks that are impregnated with a kind of very thick syrup until the stem reaches 70% sugar. In this way, the juice of this plant is almost completely replaced.

After this process, it is cut into pieces to put it on sale in the markets at reasonable prices.

As it became such a popular ingredient for various recipes, SAGARPA had to classify the biznaga as a protected species since 2005, due to the overexploitation of this species for food purposes that have led it to put it in danger of extinction.

Even so, in our country the acitrón continues to be made and sold illegally.

Acitron

Acitron (photo: Getty Images)

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How to substitute acitrón in recipes?

Due to this problem, alternatives have been sought to substitute acitrón with other crystallized foods, for example, beets, jicama and chayote, an initiative created by gastronomy students from the Sor Juana Cloister.

Other equally delicious and very popular ingredients are xoconostle, a species of prickly pear that also has many health benefits and is easy to get.

Crystallized papaya and quince are also an excellent substitute for the biznaga product.

And finally, the ate of different flavors is also an excellent substitute for acitrón.

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