Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dragon Fruit

Tonight I had dinner with the kids in an Asian mall, and picked up a couple of bags of persimmons. I first tried persimmons a couple of years ago, and found that I really enjoy the nonastringent (e.g. Fuyu) varieties. They are very mild, taste somewhat like a melon or peach, soft yet crunchy, not acidic. I loved them so much, I have planted a Fuyu persimmon tree in the middle of my yard. It may be a few more years before I see any fruit from it, but I am already dreaming about that...

Tonight I saw another fruit which looked pretty interesting, so brought it home to try. Looking on the internet, I see that it is the Pitaya or Pitahaya, also known as Dragon Fruit. It is the fruit of a night-blooming cactus, in this case, the Hylocereus undatus. It is native to Mexico and South and Central America, but also cultivated in Southeast Asian countries, where these ones, I am sure, originated.

The outside appearance is pretty exotic, it really looks like the fruit of a cactus (would add a photo, except Blogger seems to be having problems with photo upload again!!!). The inside was surprising to me, it was soft, white and speckled with tiny black tasteless seeds. The texture of the flesh is very reminiscent of a kiwi fruit, except the taste is mild and sweet, not nearly as tangy as the kiwi. My daughter really liked it (and she doesn't like kiwis).

I will buy it again, but perhaps not for a little while. After I pulled it out of its plastic wrapper, I found that the stem end was covered in little foreign bugs (ha ha, would have posted a photo, but Blogger won't have it - again!!). My 7 year old daughter had the great idea to use a strip of masking tape to catch the bugs. Otherwise, it would have been near impossible to try to squish them against the soft fruit, and I couldn't take the chance to just wash them off, in case they climbed back up my drain to invade my home and garden. So after that experience, I will be more cautious when I pick the fruit, make sure I don't bring any more of these bugs home with me again.

Looking around, I also see a site called "Canadian Dragon Fruit", based in Calgary, of all places, which encourages Canadians to grow this cactus (presumably indoors), and is selling 5 different varieties. The Spring Special (?!) is $19.95 per plant, including shipping. Interesting enough, it is described as a jungle cactus instead of desert cactus, so actually needs shaded light, and more water and food than one would expect of a cactus.

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