The origin of the pitahaya (also called dragon fruit) is not really traceable. Its botanical name, Hylocereus refers to both its habitat (hulos means forest in Greek) and the way in which it resists droughts (the wax or cereus covering the leaves). Pitahaya can withstand temperatures of 38-40 ºc but nevertheless requires 60-130 cm annual rainfall. The plant is a member of the cactus family. The fruits are oval shaped and contain pulp with a scattering of black seeds. When ripe, the fruit peels as easily as a banana and tastes like a mixture of melon and kiwi.
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Red pitahayas are available from Vietnam, Thailand and Israel.
Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron
There are 2 subtypes: the red fleshed variety of which the skin is red and the pulp is abundant and sweet with a characteristic wine-red color. And the white-fleshed variety. Its white pulp contrasts with the preceding variety and the skin is pinkish red.View Pitahaya red
The fruit is smaller than the red and pink species. It also has spines before maturity. The pulp is white and is scattered with black seeds. It has a sweet delicate flavour.View Pitahaya yellow
Cut the fruit vertically into two halves. From here, either cut the halves into watermelon-like slices, or scoop out the two white fleshy halves with a tablespoon. The skin is not eaten.Consumption
The flesh, which is eaten raw, is mildly sweet. It is generally recommended that dragon fruit should be eaten chilled, for improved flavour; dragon fruit should not be used to accompany strong-tasting food. Eating the fruit is sometimes compared with that of the kiwifruit due to the similar texture with small black crunchy seeds. The fruit is also converted into juice.When to eat
When the skin is still a bit green the fruit can be ripened at room temperature. The leaves should be bright green. When ripe, keep refrigerated and consume within a few days.
Did you know?
- The fruit can weigh from 150-600 grams; some may reach one kilogram.
- The French introduced the red pitahaya to Vietnam about 100 years ago. They were originally grown for the king and later for wealthy families in Vietnam.
- Pitahaya’s bloom only at night, and only last one night where pollination is necessary to set fruit.