Now, in the period of globalization, what kind of exotic fruits can not be found on the shelves of our stores! The most strange in appearance is a fruit from Vietnam, "the heart of a dragon." Bristling, like a hedgehog, with green needles, behind which he hides a red or purple peel, the fruit conceals in itself a delicate and fragrant flesh. It resembles a creamy cream with poppy seeds - so thickly all the interior of the fruit is dotted with small black bones. And what is the taste of the "heart of the dragon"? How and with what it is eaten? About this and many other things you will learn from this article.
Despite the fact that now the fruit "heart of the dragon" is mainly brought from tropical countries of Southeast Asia, the birthplace of the plant is Central and Latin America. The ancient Aztecs used to eat fruits for a long time, calling them "pitaia." Hence the fruit appeared and other names. It is called "pittahaye", "dragon's eye", "prickly pear". The English know it as a dragon fruit, and in Thailand it is called "kaumangkon". But how many names this people would reward, and in strict scientific classification it is listed as Hylocereus. And most importantly: Pitaya is actually the fruit of a cactus! Yes, only liano-like, growing not in arid deserts, but in the humid tropical jungle. Pittahaya yields four or six times a year, its fruits transport well. Plants are well established in a similar climate, and are now cultivated on an industrial scale in Sri Lanka, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand. They are also grown in Israel, Australia, Japan.
What is a "heart of a dragon" fruit
These are small fruits (in total from one hundred and fifty grams to half a kilogram). The plant has three types. Two of them have white flesh. It is yellow (Hylocereus megalanthus) and red (Hylocereus undatus) pitaya, the photo of which you see. The third species - Hylocereus costaricensis - is a Kostorican, special. The flesh of the fruit, like the skin, is colored bloody. Probably, this species gave such a sonorous name to the fruit - "the heart of the dragon". The color of the fruit does not affect the taste qualities of the fruit. Yellow pittahaya is a little more expensive, but only because in Asia it is rarely cultivated. And the color of the pulp can be determined from leaf-shaped growths. If they are green, inside the fruit will be a white mashed potatoes with seeds. If the leaves are pink, the flesh of the fruit will be red.
What is eaten
Liana-like cactus pitaya, the photo of which you see, blossoms very beautifully. Large white buds open only at night and exude a strong, pleasant aroma. In this regard, flowers are consumed as a flavor of tea (like jasmine). Ovary appears after forty days. The cactus buds are eaten as fresh vegetables. After two months from the time of flowering, you can harvest fruit. Of course, the fruit is used only in raw form. Pittahaya can be served as an independent dish for dessert, but you can also include it in the fruit salad. Pulp, mashed in puree, is very tasty when paired with lime. Seeds are very useful, but in order for them to be absorbed by the body, they need to be chewed. Still Scez de Leon, the first European to describe the pittahay in his work The Chronicle of Peru (sixteenth century), mentions one interesting property of this fruit. A person who ate at least one small fruit of Pitaya, urine and feces for a short time are painted a bloody color. This phenomenon is called pseudogematuria, and it does not cause any harm to the body, so it's not worth worrying.
The use of the "dragon's heart"
Pitaya is a fruit rich in iron, calcium and phosphorus. It also contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, E, very much C and PP. Pittahaya is ninety percent water. Fats, and even polyunsaturated, are contained in a small amount. In general, this fruit is dietary. It can not be called particularly sweet, and therefore it can be safely consumed by diabetics. The fruit lowers the level of cholesterol, strengthens the immune system, promotes normalization of the gastrointestinal tract. It is useful for hypertensive patients, as it softly lowers blood pressure. In addition, Pittahaya contains a vital substance - an antioxidant, which prevents the formation of free radicals that cause cancer. However, pittahayu must be used with caution for people with diseased kidneys.
How to choose a ripe fruit
Usually the fruit "heart of the dragon" has a smooth peel of red color, dotted with leafy outgrowths. How to understand what is hidden inside? Is the fruit ripe? It is easy to determine by pressing your finger on it. If the fruit is soft, pleasantly springs, then ripe. The taste of fruit is disappointing at first. It is slightly watery, inexpressive, slightly sweet. Those who are accustomed to the rich taste of mangoes will not appreciate it. But pittahayu should be "bitten": behind the first impression that it is "sweetish kiwi with seeds", comes the sensation of a gentle creamy refreshing pulp. The aroma of pittahaya is inexpressible. But it evaporates, it costs the fetus to warm up. This all applies only to the ripe Pitaya. If the fruit is ripped off early, it will be completely tasteless. But ripe fruits are cleaned with their hands easily - as if peony petals open.
How to eat pita
Usually, the fruit is served like this. Cut it into halves and serve on a plate with a dessert spoon. Eat flesh with bones, and prickly skin is thrown out. There is another way of serving. Also, the fruit is cut in half vertically, but it is served with a fruit knife, not a spoon. In this case, pittahayu cut into a small melon or watermelon - lobules. In order not to evaporate the wonderful fragrance of the "dragon's heart," the fruit is served chilled. However, one should not overdo and freeze pita. Its taste is not very expressive. It can be lost as a result of hypothermia. Therefore, do not combine it with other fruits or dishes that have a bright, rich taste. Among them, the Pittahaya "is lost," and you do not appreciate it undeservedly. Fruits with red flesh have a more pronounced taste, but with white - more refined. In addition, in the homeland of Pitaya, homemade wine, jams, jams are made from it. Try to decorate a puree of dragon fruit with lime ice cream.
The Aztecs clothed the fruit "the heart of the dragon" with many myths. All of them somehow explain the strange name of the pataia. It is believed that once there were dragons in Yucatan. They attacked the villages and did a lot of harm. Many heroes went out to fight with dragons. And there was only one left - the strongest and most vicious. He was spitting on the heroes with fire, but the Aztecs were a stubborn people, and instead of one fallen fighter another came. Finally, the dragon was exhausted to such an extent that it no longer had fire. He spit out his heart and died. By the way, a medicine is made from the stems of a cactus liana. It stimulates the cardiovascular system.