Monday, February 27, 2023

Mexico: Pitaya Sorbet from Cacti Fruits


I often drove by a small makeshift market stall with signs: "Pitaya Nieve" and was wondering what they are selling and what pitaya is.  Then I learned that it is an extremely healthy fruit of a cactus. Nieve means snow, but in many parts of Mexico, it's used to mean ice cream and sorbet.

Pitaya, also known as Dragon Fruit, is a superfruit indigenous to Central and South America that is now grown all over the world. Dragon fruit also called "pitaya" or "pitahaya," is the vibrant-colored and sweet-tasting fruit of cactus plants: Pitayo cactus (Stenocereus queretaroensis), a bushy tree-like cactus.  It is relatively easy to grow, particularly for those in tropical or subtropical locations where maintenance is minimal.

This “ice cream” or dragon fruit sorbet recipe is made with frozen fruit and fruit juices.  Dragon fruit, or pitaya, is frozen after being cut into cubes, along with frozen bananas.  Once your fruit is frozen, it’s easy to put this vegan sorbet recipe together.  Simply add your frozen fruit, along with some raspberry puree, and fresh squeezed orange juice, to a high-speed blender.  Add some scraped vanilla bean or vanilla extract, if desired, and your healthy dessert is complete.

You can enjoy this vegan ice cream right out of the blender and it will have a soft-serve consistency.  If you’d prefer it to be thicker and “scoopable” to put on a cone, you can put it in a shallow dish and cover it, and then freeze it for 2-3 hours. 

According to Wikipedia: "Pitaya has been an important food source for indigenous peoples of the Americas.  The Seri people of northwestern Mexico still harvest the fruit, and call the plant ziix is ccapxl "thing whose fruit is sour".

The fruit of the organ pipe cactus (S. thurberi, called ool by the Seris) is the pitaya dulce "sweet pitaya".  It has a more tart taste than Selenicereus fruit, described as somewhat reminiscent of watermelon.  Sweet pitayas come in three types".

100 grams of dried pitaya provides 264 kilocalories of food energy, 82% carbohydrates, 4% protein, and 11% of the daily value each for vitamin C and calcium.  Who would have thought that sorbet or ice cream can be so healthy?


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