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Requested Recipe:


"I have very big night-flower red pitaya with many good fruit. Have
you instructions for wine?"
Juan Antonio Barrera, Panuco de Veracruz, Mexico


I believe Juan is speaking of the Night-Blooming (or Night-Flowering) Cereus (Hylocereus undatus or Hylocereus ocamponis), for which I found a reference calling it the red pitaya. For the record, I also found references to the Pitahayo or Pitahaya (Heliocereus) and the Pitayo (Lemairocereus queretaroensis, L. thurberi, or L. weberi). The names are close and the descriptions less than exacting, but all are species of the genus Cereus, all are native to Mexico, and all have tasty edible fruit. However, I do believe Juan is speaking of the Hylocereus undatus.

Red Pitaya Flowers

The Night-Blooming Cereus, like all cereus, are cacti. The name "Hylocereus" is from the Greek "hyle"--meaning "thicket"--and "cereus"--meaning "candle"--and they are a type of pipe-organ cactus, although their trunk and branch segments are not round. These cacti form very dense thickets and are cultivated for barriers, for their large, white or yellowish-white, strongly scented flowers, and for their spineless, very tasty fruit. As the name implies, the beautiful flowers only bloom at night and are therefore sometimes planted so as to lend fragrance to a courtyard or garden where cool evenings are enjoyed.

Red Pitaya Fruit

The fruit are eaten raw, made into refreshing drinks, or dried for later use. Of course, they also make a very good wine, for which they may be washed and chopped with their outer skin intact or peeled to the white pulp and then chopped. Chopping the whole fruit gives the resulting wine a bit of a tint.


Put water on to boil. Meanwhile, carefully trim the greenery from the fruit, wash the fruit well, and chop it coarsely. Put chopped fruit, sugar and yeast nutrient into primary. When water boils, pour into primary and stir until sugar dissolves. Cover with a sanitized cloth and set aside to cool. When at room temperature, add crushed Campden tablet and stir. Recover primary and set aside for 12 hours. Add pectic enzyme, stir, recover primary, and set aside another 12 hours. Add activated yeast. Stir daily for 7 days. Strain through nylon straining bag and squeeze juice out of red pitaya pulp. Transfer liquid to secondary, top up if required and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock every 30 days until wine clears and no new sediments form during a 30-day period. Stabilize, sweeten to taste, wait 10 days, and rack into bottles. Like most wines, it should improve with age. [Author's own recipe]

My thanks to Juan Antonio Barrera of Panuco de Veracruz, Mexico for requesting this recipe.

This page was updated on July 19th, 2000

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