© Denzil Green
Pitahaya is a fruit from a type of cactus vine that can grow on the ground or off trees. The vine is propagated by cuttings.
The vine produces large flowers, then the Pitahaya fruit. The fruit is oblong, and about 4 inches (10 cm) long with rubbery skin that is either reddish-pink and smooth with triangle-shaped appendages growing from it, or yellowy-orange with rough, bumpy, and prickly-looking skin.
There is no apparent smell when you hold an unopened fruit up to your nose.
The skin is inedible. Some find it easiest to peel them by holding them with a fork.
Yellow-skinned ones tend to have white flesh inside; red ones tend to have either white or pink flesh. The flesh is creamy with a delicate sweet flavour remiscent of melon. There are many crunchy small black seeds scattered throughout the flesh, as the Kiwi fruit has. In some varieties, the seeds are edible.
Pitahaya are being grown commercially in South America, Central America and in Israel.
Chose ones that yield a bit when squeezed lightly.
Varieties have scientific names such as Hylocereus polyrhizus, Hylocereus undulatus and Stenocereus queretaroensis.
Best chilled. Lime or lemon juice enhances the flavour. To eat out of hand, slice in half, and use a spoon to scoop out the inside and eat it, then you eat as well the thick flesh on the walls of the fruit, like you would melon.
The flesh can be puréed to use as a fruit sauce. Leave seeds in for most.
Low in pectin.
Store ripe ones in the fridge; use within a week.
Native to northern Central America. Now grown as well in South-East Asia.
Also called / spelt: “pitahaya”, “pitajaya” and “pitaya.