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Israeli crossbreeding bears tasty exotic fruit in the Negev

Posted By ISRAEL21c Staff On January 19, 2003 @ 7:00 pm In | No Comments

The “Dragon’s Eggs” are the result of crossbreeding the red and yellow pitaya fruits.What do you get when an Israeli professor crossbreeds two South American fruits? “Dragon’s Eggs,” a new exotic fruit developed at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The team of researchers who developed the fruit at the university’s Institute for Agriculture and Applied Biology announced its launch last week.

“Dragon’s Eggs” are the result of crossbreeding a Panamanian “mother” – the Red Pitaya fruit – and a Columbian “father” – the yellow pitaya fruit. The new fruit was developed by traditional cross-breeding and not through genetic engineering.

The new fruit has a red peel and sweet delicious flesh in a deep purple shade. Overall it boasts a reddish-purplish glitter and contains black seeds that are soft and edible, similar to the seeds of a kiwi. The peel is covered with scales and relatively big thorns that are removable upon ripening. The consumer will receive the fruit free of thorns and ready to eat.

Similar to the prickly pear – the fruit commonly known as a “sabra” – “Dragon’s Eggs” belongs to the cactus family, making its water consumption about one-fifth to one-tenth of that of regular orchard trees.

“This feature” emphasizes Professor Yosef Mizrahi, who led the team which developed the fruit, “has supreme significance for Israeli agriculture that suffers from a grave shortage in irrigation water.”

The fruit is being grown in the university’s research fields in Sde Nitzan and Kibbutz Maabarot in the Negev, and has been planted by farmers in other areas including Rosh Hanikra and Kibbutz Eilon on the Lebanese border.

Mizrachi has already send sample plants to fruit farmers in Australia, and another batch is on its way to Hawaii. He is confident that once the world gets a taste of his new treat, there will be interest in marketing the Israeli-grown fruit in the United States and Europe. Commercial quantities should become available in the next two years.

As for consumption, like other tropical fruits, Mizrahi points out that the “Dragon Eggs” cannot be stored in a refrigerator for long period of time. Instead, it is cooled off in a refrigerator only two hours prior to serving. It can then be enjoyed eaten with a spoon out of its peel, or sliced into wedges and eaten like a prickly pear.




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