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Synonyms: pitaya, pitahaya



Dragon fruits or pitayas are the fruits of various types and species of cactus. Three varieties of pitayas are of importance in the international fruit trade:


* Yellow pitaya (Selenicereus megalanthus)
Yellow pitayas come from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. They are grown at high altitudes.


* Red pitaya (Hylocereus costaricensis and Hylocereus polyrhizus)
Red pitayas prefer warm lowland zones such as Costa Rica or Colombia.


* Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus)
The dragon fruit is native to Central America. Countries where it is grown are Nicaragua, China, Vietnam and Israel.



Yellow pitayas are available all year round in Germany. Red pitayas can be found here only occasionally from June to December.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

Pitayas have a very bizarre shape and somewhat resemble the prickly pear.


Yellow pitayas are about 10 cm long and round to oval. Their yellow outer skin has numerous bumpy evaginations with thorns. The thorns are normally removed prior to export. Inside the fruit is a grey-white pulp filled with numerous black seeds. Yellow pitayas are refreshingly sweet and mildly aromatic.


The red pitaya is round or egg-shaped and has an intensely red skin. There are no thorns on its scaled skin. The pulp is violet-red. It tastes less aromatic than the yellow pitaya.


Dragon fruits are somewhat longer and more oval than the two fruits described above. Their violet-red to pink skin has no thorns, but it has distinctive scales. The pulp is grey-white and the taste is somewhere between that of the two species mentioned above.



The pulp of pitayas has a mildly laxative effect, particularly if the seeds are chewed. It contains above all the minerals potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium, as well as some vitamin C.


Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

The red-skinned pitayas are more sensitive than the yellow ones. They are not so easy to transport and store. The yellow fruits can be stored for up to 2 weeks at room temperature.


Possible shrinking of the skin during storage does not represent a loss of quality in the pulp.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Pitayas are best eaten raw. They should be cut in half lengthwise or crosswise and spooned out.

You may also cut off both ends and peel off the skin after cutting into it with a sharp knife. Then you can cut the fruit into pieces and add them to fruit or poultry salads.


The pulp of the pitaya is easy to purée and is good in this way for mixing with milk drinks or desserts.





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