Dragon Fruit (Pitahaya)
EXTRAVAGANTLY VISUAL – MEDIOCRE FLAVOUR
The Pitahaya (Hylocereus genus) is also known as the Dragon fruit due to its extravagant appearance and vibrant colour. Its a vine-like epiphytic cactus that produces edible fruit. Similar to a prickly pear but more exotic looking. Native to Central America it is found throughout the continent stretching all the way to Northern Argentina and is cultivated extensively in Asia.
Several varieties exist including the white fleshed, red fleshed and ‘Megalanthus’, a yellow skinned dragon fruit with white flesh. The Pitaya (Stenocereus) is distinct with a sour flavour profile.
THE FLAVOUR PROFILE
Very much like the carambola (star fruit) its appearance is more impressive than its flavour profile. It has been described as sorbet like without the sweetness to quite bland. A blend of weak melon, pear and kiwi just about defines it.
SCIENCE OF DRAGON FRUIT
The Dragon fruit consists of mostly water and carbohydrates. Its rich in calcium, iron and phosphorus. The red skin varieties are a good source of vitamin C as well as containing significant quantities of phytoalbumin antioxidants.
Dragon fruit is unmistakable even in Asian markets. Its vibrant odd form attracts everyone at first sight. Even though they are not grown outside hotter climates, the Dragon fruit often appears at markets outside its cultivation range because of its novelty. The reality is that its flavour profile does suffer when transported but its still equally attractive.
HOW DO WE USE IT?
The flesh of Dragon fruit is eaten raw including the seeds which have a nutty flavour. It is generally combined with other tropical fruits and used as a dessert. The fruit needs to be cut open to expose the inside using a sharp knife that should pass through relatively easily.
FLAVOUR COMBINATION SUGGESTIONS
Various ingredients combine well with the dragon fruit. Kiwi, lime, strawberry, guava, nectarine, chili peppper, coconut, cardamom, watermelon, pear, rambutan, lychee and star fruit are some key examples.
Fruit must be unblemished and ideally overripe. Best eaten when sour otherwise the flavour profile becomes blander with shipping.