Red Chinese Mulberries
The Red Chinese mulberry tree is a broad, spreading bush or small tree dotted with small thorns. Like its mulberry relatives, the fruits are technically not a berries but rather aggregates of tiny fleshy drupes clustered around a single stem
Monterrey pears are a large variety from northern Mexico, botanically a cultivar of Pyrus pyrifolia. The Asian pear hybrid was selected from the tree of a popular southern Texas variety. Monterrey pears are a cross of European pear and a Japanese pear.
Dragon Fruit Flower Buds
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|Tony Do's Farm|
Dragon Fruit flower buds are the unopened flowers that grow at intervals along the vining cactus stems. The flower buds are encapsulated in elongated, spiky green, finger-like sepals (or calyx) that fold over and protect the developing petals. The pod-shaped flower buds look like elongated green pinecones with red margins on the sepals. Dragon Fruit flower buds can grow up to ten inches in length before the flower emerges and must be harvested prior to the bloom. Once the Dragon Fruit flower has bloomed, the flower dies to allow for the fruit to develop. The Dragon Fruit plant will develop at least seven “flushes” of buds on its stems over the course of one season. The buds are most often cooked before consuming and have a cactus-like taste, similar to a nopal or prickly pear cactus paddle. The flavor is also likened to that of asparagus.
Dragon Fruit flower buds are available during the late spring and through the beginning of fall.
The Dragon Fruit, or Pitahaya, flower buds grow just prior to the fruiting stage on plants botanically classified as members of the Hylocereus genus. The flower buds are not nearly as well-known or common as the rounded red or yellow fruits of the plant. The flowers only bloom at night, and only for a brief period of 8 hours. The buds are harvested from the plant at various stages, before they open. The flowers are sometimes called Queen of the Night for their nocturnal bloom, or Moonflower.
Fruits of Hylocereus genus contain high amounts of vitamin C, potassium, minerals and fiber, though it is not clear that these nutritional benefits are present in the same amounts in the flower bud. Because the Dragon Fruit flower buds are not commonly consumed outside of Latin America, little information is available on their nutritional content.
Dragon Fruit flower buds are used like a vegetable, and are most often cooked prior to consumption. The buds are sautéed or used to make soups. They can also be dipped in an egg mixture or batter and fried. Fried Dragon Fruit flower buds can be used as an accompaniment for meats and other main dishes. Serve along with other vegetables or stuff into burritos or tacos. Dragon Fruit flower buds are highly perishable and must be used within a few days. To preserve the flower buds they must be dehydrated and can be stored in an airtight container for up to six months.
In Cantonese, the flower buds of the Dragon Fruit (variety H. undatus) are called Ba wòhng fâ. They are used to make soup. The soup is made with lean pork, dates and bitter apricot kernels. The unopened flower buds of the ‘night blooming cereus’ are sold dried and packaged in China as “Jin Hua.” The dried Dragon Fruit flower buds are reconstituted with warm water and cooked with dried mushrooms, and almonds and garnished with chopped green onions.
The plants of the Hylocereus genus, including the two most common H. polyrhizus and H. undatus are native to Latin America, most likely Mexico and Colombia. Some species may be native to islands in the Caribbean or West Indies. The plants grow best in drier tropical or subtropical areas and prefer very warm temperatures. Today, Dragon Fruit are grown all over the world, though they were considered ‘exotic’ and weren’t commonly known much prior to the early 1990s. Sixteen cultivated varieties exist, though many other still grow wild. Dragon Fruit flower buds are most likely to be found at farmer’s markets in warm, subtropical or tropical climates.