Despite its nickname and exotic appearance, the pitahaya is native to Mexico, not China, and can also be found in some South American countries. Its dark red, pink and yellow varieties grow on a climbing cactus which is very common here in Lanzarote too.
When ripe, its flesh has a mild, sweet flavour and is perfect in a number of recipes including jams, compotes, smoothies and homemade ice cream. It also makes a great addition to cakes and all kinds of sweets. Another way of enjoying dragon fruit is as a soft drink called Pitahaya Water. Make it by blending a litre of water, 100 grams of sugar, the juice of half a lemon and pitahaya pulp. Strain and cool before drinking.
Apart from its high water content, Pitahaya is also high in vegetable protein and fibre. It is rich in vitamins B and C as well as minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron. Its tiny black seeds also contain healthy fatty acids such as Omega-3.
Dragon fruit is not only stunning to look at, but its many health benefits include its ability to boost the immune system and stimulate production of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. It is even said to delay cellular ageing; help regulate your digestive system, reduce the risk of cerebral and cardiac infarction and as it aids iron absorption, it’s good for combating anaemia, too.