• Can you spot the salty-sweet fruit? (Instagram / @ellen23ym84)Source: Instagram / @ellen23ym84
Pigface is a salty-sweet fruit. Don't let its name deter you, it's all kinds of delicious.
Farah Celjo

23 Nov 2016 - 2:56 PM  UPDATED 4 May 2022 - 10:43 AM


You might recognise this plant creeping along beach dunes on the coastal areas of Australia. With its vibrant thick leaves and purple flowers, this succulent grows in dry, rocky and sandy conditions. With maximum sun and minimal water required for it to truly thrive, it really is a low-maintenance plant. So much so, that perhaps you may not have not really noticed, let alone consumed, it before.

What is it?

That somewhat unfortunate name is apparently a reference to its looks: the pigface plants' flowers are said to resemble exactly that - a pig's face -  perhaps you might need to use your imagination here. The plant produces bright pinky-hued flowers in spring and summer and the fruit is ripe when the flower is pollinated and turns a deeper red colour, which makes it a lot more obvious to spot among the leaves. 

Also known as Carpobrotus (meaning edible fruits), karkalla or ice plant because of its more curvy appearance, pigface is a very versatile plant and has already been used by Indigenous peoples as a viable food source. 

How do you eat it?

Every part of this plant is edible, the flowers, the leaves and even its water -  it contains a lot of drinkable moisture, and this juice takes on aloe vera-like properties as it can be used to soothe burns, bites and stings. The fleshy, juicy leaves have a slightly salty taste and because of this it makes for a great salt substitute - it works wonders in salads, and is a great accompaniment to meat, seafood or even egg dishes - perhaps your next breakfast addition?

The tough outer skin is discarded and the tangy fruit inside can be eaten raw or cooked. Squeeze the bottom of the leaves to collect the juice, seeds and fruit. The flesh tends to have a slightly gelatinous texture similar to that of kiwi fruit, strawberry or even a fig with a salty twist. It's also a great addition to a pickle, chutney or jam.

Quick pickle recipe

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 100 ml vinegar
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Orange or lemon peel
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp black peppercorn
  • 2 handfuls pigface, thinly sliced

1. Combine the hot water and vinegar with sugar and salt in a bowl. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.

2. In a large jar, place your peel, bay leaf, peppercorns and pigface.

3. Pour the hot liquid over the pigface and spices and leave to sit for at least 15 mins or until cool.

4. Store in the fridge.


Where can you get it?

There are about 30 species, and while many species are also native to South Africa and Europe, six of those are native to Australia. The plant is available all year round, although its purple daisy-like flowers tend to flourish in the summer and autumn months, which is when the fruit is ripe and ready. Because it is quite a low maintenance plant, it is easy to grow your own and many nurseries around Australia can get you started. 

Don't be surprised if you see it being used more and more as many restaurants here and in Europe have already incorporated it onto their menus.

Lead image @ellen23ym84 / Instagram 

Where can I do with it?