The Dragonfruit is one of the strangest looking fruits I have ever seen. The fruit of several cactus species, most importantly of the genus Hylocereus(sweet pitayas). It is usually either a vibrant red or yellow with white flesh and small black pips inside, shaped somewhat like an artichoke. The red species is the more commonly found in Australia.
image by _e.t
Recently I was told about a dragonfruit farm in in Queensland owned by Mary Vassallo, a very talented lady who has authored two cookbooks on Maltese Cooking and another in conjunction with the State Library of Queensland At Our Table – Queensland people – our stories, our food. She and her husband has been growing pitaya on their farm and sent me some photos of their harvest.
According to Wikipedia  there are three commercially farmed pitaya varieties:
- Hylocereus undatus (red pitaya) has red-skinned fruit with white flesh. This is the most commonly-seen “dragon fruit”.
- Hylocereus costaricensis (Costa Rica pitaya, often called H. polyrhizus) has red-skinned fruit with red flesh
- Hylocereus megalanthus (yellow pitaya, formerly in Selenicereus) has yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh.
Native to Mexico and Central and Sout
h America, the vine-like epiphytic Hylocereus cacti are also cultivated in Asian countries such asTaiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. They are also found in Okinawa, Hawaiʻi, Israel, northern Australia and southern China. Hylocereus blooms only at night; the large white fragrant flowers of the typical cactusflower shape are among those called “moonflower” or “Queen of the Night“. Sweet pitayas have a creamy pulp and a delicate aroma.
Some information from the At Our Table profile on Mary:
Mary, the daughter of Carmnu and Angela Muscat was raised in San-Martin, Malta. The family (parents, six sons and four daughters) migrated to Australia on the ‘Toscana’ in 1954 and settled in Mackay. Mary, a well-known Maltese identity, has written two recipe books. Together with her husband Victor they raised a family of four and now make time to enjoy their grandchildren.
Although life in Malta was never easy, memories are treasured of their life there, but equally cherish their life in Australia.