The ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research has developed a technology for the preparation of Ready-to-Serve (RTS) beverages from dragon fruit. Dragon fruit which is commonly called pitaya/kamalam belongs to the family Cactaceae. Both the red-pulped (Hylocereus polyrhizus) and white-pulped (Hylocereus undatus) fruits are grown in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, China, etc. In India, the dragon fruit is cultivated on around 3,000 hectares. With rising demand for this fruit, the GOI is targeting to expand its cultivation to 50,000 hectares in five years. Currently, the fruits are sold at Rs 150-200/kg in the market and primarily it is consumed as table fruit, as salad, and as fresh juice in juice shops and restaurants. This fruit is a good source of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, betalains, and antioxidants, which are known for reducing the risk of developing many non-communicable diseases. In India, currently, no ready-to-serve (RTS) beverage from dragon fruit in packaged form is available commercially even on e-platforms. Further, the tiny seeds and the nature of its pulp, which is not like any other fruit make it very difficult to prepare a RTS beverage. Therefore, ICAR-IIHR has developed a RTS from dragon fruit using a method where the seeds and the mucilage have been removed but with the retention of its exotic color and taste. Not only it has a good appearance, but it is also filled with vitamin C, polyphenols, and a red color natural pigment called betalains. The developed RTS will provide consumers with a soothing lighter taste bright pink colored dragon fruit beverage. This beverage has a shelf life of six months under ambient conditions. No synthetic flavor or color has been used. One can really relish the unique taste of this fruit in the form of a beverage now.
Source: Dr. Pushpa Chethan Kumar, Senior Scientist, ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru