Aug 2007

Vegetation Profile: Pitaya


The pitaya (also known as pitahaya, dragon fruit, huǒ lóng guǒ (火龍果/火龙果), strawberry pear, nanettikafruit, or thanh long) is the fruit of several cactus species, especially of the genus Hylocereus, but also see Stenocereus. Native to Mexico and Central and South America, these vine-like epiphytic cacti are also cultivated in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia. They are also found in Taiwan, Okinawa, Israel, and southern China. The pitaya only blooms at night; they are large white flowers that are often called Moonflower or Queen of the Night.

Thanh long is hands down the most visually arresting fruit in all of the land. However, its taste is nowhere near as spectacular as its appearance. Underneath the magenta skin lies the fruit’s white flesh, which is full of tiny, edible seeds. Thanh long tastes similar to a kiwi, but its sweetness is one-dimensional and lacks any sort of tartness. Consuming the entire fruit at once bores my taste buds, so salads are the way to go for enjoying this particular piece of vegetation.

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3 thoughts on “Vegetation Profile: Pitaya

  1. I agree with you on the flavor and appearance. I think pitaya and cherimoya are some of the most unique and interesting looking fruits out there. But unlike the cherimoya’s amazing flavor, the pitaya leaves a bit to be desired. I haven’t had them fresh, so I have to take your word on that, but I had some dried from Trader Joe’s and they were quite lackluster and boring. I was disappointed. It would be interesting to see how they are used traditionally. Thanks for your great picture. They are just so cool looking.

  2. i love pitaya…have only ever eaten them fresh. i saw them in chinatown nyc a few weeks back but didn’t have a chance to pick one up, now they are gone. i remember them from summers in mexico with family, and they are among my favorite, most memorable fruit experiences. those and what we called “saramuyo” are the most sweet & memorable fruit experiences…pity they aren’t more readily available in the US. with both i loved just being able to eat straight from the fruit with a spoon…bliss 🙂

  3. I love the taste of dragon fruit. I was lucky enough to have many of them fresh in Taiwan. I love the texture too. The fruit is juicy, but the little seeds gives it a crunchy feel. If you feel the flavor is too light, try drizzling some honey on top.

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