Originally from America, the pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, is a tropical fruit that is expanding very quickly in La Axarquía, in Malaga, where local producers are making crosses and obtaining native varieties.
This is the case of the producer Ramón Jiménez, who has a farm of about 1,000 square meters in Torrox, where he produces around 1,000 kilos of pitayas a year. He sells them to a distributor in Almuñécar, in Granada, and to hotel businesses in the area.
"I've been planting pitayas since 2004 and I've already got a variety that is adapted to open ground cultivation, called Ruby Red," explains Jiménez, who says that it is a profitable fruit, since the price paid to the producer ranges between 5 and 10 Euro per kilo, and each piece can weigh between 400 and 1,000 grams.
Another peculiarity of the pitaya is that its flowers can also be used to prepare soup, and its new stems are also edible.
The pitaya is a treasure from a nutritional point of view. It contains antioxidants, mucilage, ascorbic acid and phenols, among other components. It is rich in vitamin C and also contains B vitamins, minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus or iron. It has a high water content (95%) and also vegetable protein and soluble fiber. The seeds, which are edible, contain beneficial fatty acids. And one of its most outstanding properties is that it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends its use.
Despite its peculiar appearance, the pitaya is eaten like any other fruit. It is cut in half and the pulp is removed with a spoon, and the seeds are also edible. It can be used to prepare smoothies, ice creams and cakes, and is also used to make jam and compotes.