IT ALL started some two years ago when Show Lee Sin toyed with the idea of cultivating dragon fruit plants at his orchard in Taman Baru Kerdau near Temerloh
At first, it was something like wait and see when my wife and I began growing the plant.
After earning a handsome return and realising the fruits potential, we began to expand the orchard to some 2.8ha and planted more of these dragon fruit plants, the 36-year-old Show said in an interview.
Dragon fruit is also known as cactus fruit or pitaya. Resembling a dragons flaming fireball, its sweet flesh is either red or white and speckled with black edible seeds.
Originating from the South American continent, this pine cone-shaped fruit has a pink skin with greenish fronds sticking out of its bulb.
This vine-like cactus fruit plant has two species. The climbing type (Hylocereus undatus, Selenicereus megalanthus) of which there are several varieties including red pitaya, strawberry pear and thang loy while the columnar plants (Stenocereus thurberi, Cereus peruvianus) are also known as apple cactus and Mexican strawberry.
Show said he plants the red-fleshed dragon fruit variety as it is more popular among the locals due to its sweet and juicy flesh.
Nutritionists have reported that the dragon fruit has high fibre content apart from being rich in minerals like potassium, iron, sodium and calcium.
Its flesh has been processed into various products like cordials and even mooncakes, he said.
Show said his wife, Chow Kwai Sing had turned the fruits flesh into a key ingredient of the mooncake, marketed under the Crystal Jelly Moon Cake brand popular among the locals particularly during the lantern festival celebration.
The Chinese community in Te-merloh town like the dragon fruit-based mooncake and they even place orders in high numbers for this traditional cake which the couple sells at RM20 a box.
Show said more research should be done on this fruit as it had vast potential to be turned into a downstream industry.
Apart from being very nutritious, the fruit can also be processed into cosmetics, said 35-year-old Chow.
She said dragon fruit flowers could be dried and processed into tea or teh bunga as the locals call it while its stem produced a sap similar to aloe vera and was useful in treating burns and scalds.
The couple has come out with several products from dragon fruit - canned drinks under the Pittaberry and Pinkberry labels as well as tea and energy-boosting enzymes sold at RM30 a bottle.
They also want to set up their own dragon-fruit processing factory instead of having to send their raw products to other factories for processing. Bernama