The way to dry Pitaya is very simple. Peel the skin and slice in ¼” thick slices and place on a wire rack so the fruit does not rest on a tray (the wire rack is very important). This helps the heat to circulate around the top and lower part of the fruit and not stick to the tray. Place the trays in the oven at 90ºC for 12 -15 hours – do this overnight so the kitchen is not being tied up. Once the slices are dried you can bag them in plastic bags. They are now ready to be saved or sold to the public.
This system allows the Pitaya to last for many months. You can put 3 racks at a time in your oven so if you have 20 slices per rack you will have a large finished product – 60 slices per night. If the fruit is not marketable because of cracks or production of fruit comes all at once and it cannot all be sold fresh, drying gives you the option of selling in that form. Drying improves the flavour considerably. This is because the water evaporates and you are left with a very sweet tasting fruit as the sugar remains in the dried fruit.
If you have dried red pitaya and have eaten in abundance, do not be alarmed if the colour of your stool becomes red as this is normal, much like when you eat beets. Most of the red coloured fruits are filled with antioxidants which are good for your health (pomegranate, beets, watermelon, tomatoes, berries). If you go to the section of photos in our `pitaya groups’, look in my folder of pictures. You will see how I have prepared the pitaya for drying or you can go to my website: www.edvaldivia.com
Hope you are successful and soon we will see more dried pitaya in the markets all year round.
Edgar Valdivia from California
Sub-Tropical Fruit Club of Qld. Inc Newsletter October – November 2007