Pitaya (also spelled pithaya, or called dragon fruit) is the fruit of several different cactus species indigenous to the Americas.
With a pinkish-red exterior and shape resembling an artichoke-pomegranate hybrid with ridges that arguably resemble dragon scales, white or pink flesh and black seeds, this fruit is still considered an exotic item, but its presence on menus has grown significantly over the past four years, mostly as a mild flavored but pretty addition to bowls and smoothies.
The texture is similar to a pear and the taste is best described as a combination of a pear and a kiwi, although the fruit is often served underripe, resulting in little flavor at all; it’s appreciated more for its appearance and antioxidants including vitamin C.
As more consumers try pitaya, look for additional applications in the dessert and beverage space beyond the health food segment.
Market research firm Datassential reports that 18% of the population knows about pitaya with awareness being highest among Hispanic, Asian and Gen Z consumers.
Click through the gallery to learn more about this week’s Flavor of the Week and see how one restaurant is using pitaya on its menu