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Jun 26, 2008 06:39 PM

Dragonfruit / Pitahaya in San Diego

This fruit triggers that feeling of longing in me. They had all different colors, white, yellow, and ruby in Guadalajara a week ago. I understand its quite popular with Asian cultures as well - so I was hoping someone may have sighted them at Ranch 99 or any other of the Viet and Korean markets in San Diego.


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    1. re: kare_raisu

      Up close and personal with the pitahaya

      1. re: DiningDiva

        I noticed this before- why are the ones in my picture so smaller and greener? Do they taste different?

        1. re: kare_raisu

          I've seen them from time to time, but not recently, at the Hillcrest Farmer's Market on Sunday.

          Might want to contact ONG's Nursery

          And also the Rare Fruit newsletter which is local to San Diego

          1. re: kare_raisu

            Just as you'll see different names for the pitahaya, there are also at least 2 varieties of them grown in Mexico. Pitahayas can also be labeled or called, pitaya, pitajaya or pitachaya, but it's all the same fruit.

            The first variety is pitahaya comun or pitahya dulce (stenocereus thurberk) which is grown primarily on the Baja penninsula, Sonora, Sinoloa. The "S. queretaensis" variety is the most common one found in markets in Jalisco. These pitahayas generally ripen in late summer and early autum.

            In this area there is also a sour pitahaya (Machaerocereus gummosus) that grows in Baja and Sonora and ripens in July and August.

            Further south in Mexico you will encounter the different variety "Hylocereus undatus" which is a tropical fruit native to the Americas. They generally ripen from June to August and the photos I posted were taken last summer (mid-July) in Michoacan. The description in Spanish of this variety is - "la cascara es color rosado intenso y presenta grandes escamas", which basically translates as the peel/skin is fushia with scales and that pretty much fits the description of the fruit I photographed.

            Both varieities have itty bitty seeds that are easily digestible so you just eat them. I remember thinking last summer when ate the fruit that it was extremely good, very refreshing and I was convinced I had found my new favorite fruit, displacing both the zapote negro and guanabana.

            I have seen pitahayas at Northgate on 43rd during the summer months. It's good, it's very expensive NOB, but worth a splurge every now and then.

            The source of my material above is - Diccionario Enciclopedico de Gastronomiz Mexicana by Ricard Munoz Zurita

            1. re: DiningDiva

              Is the pitahaya that you ate last summer the dulce? Is this the same one found asian markets no? I have never had this one.

              Have you had the ones in Jalisco of the three colors with different flavors each? You like these less?

              Is the sour also known as xonocostle?

              Reg. expensive - I saw mamey at Northgate for $4.99 lb! I bought 4 for half the price of that in Jalisco.

              I couldnt find the Encyclopedia in GDl - did get Larousse guide though for nuestro amigo EN.

              1. re: kare_raisu

                I can't answer you questions about the pitahaya because I haven't had enough experience with it. The flavor was very seductive in a lush tropical kinda way, it was definitely not tart or sour. I have not eaten pitahaya while in Jalisco, so I can't speak to the differences between the two. The pitahaya agria is definietely NOT a xonocostle.

                I think the last time I saw a pitahaya at Northgate is was around $9 per fruit.

                Ricardo's Diccionario Enciclopedico is not in print and can be extremely difficult to find. Several people have said they've found it in D.F. at the various Gandhi bookstores. I got mine in Oaxaca at the museum gift shop in the Santo Domingo church which is in various on-going stages of restoration. It also houses an incredible collection of gold and other artifacts from Monte Alban.

      2. I've bought it at Seaside Market in Solana Beach and the Lao store in Escondido. It was late summer/early fall each time, but I did see it on altar displays during Vietnamese New Year this year, so it must be at Lucky Seafood or 99 Ranch at that time of year.

        3 Replies
        1. re: maestra

          Oh, and the canned dragonfruit beverage you can find at SE Asian markets is pretty good. It has cubes of the fruit at the bottom. Even the dragonfruit-flavored gum that you can find anywhere ("Ice" something; shiny box w/a flip lid) has the seeds in it.

          1. re: maestra

            does the asian fruit taste different than the mex?

            1. re: kare_raisu

              I've actually never come across it in Mexico. Wrong places at the wrong times, I suppose.

          2. Maybe not what you're looking for, but Trader Joe's had it dried with the rest of the dried fruit...