Fruity tonic from the dragon fruit
By MAJORIE CHIEW
The goodness of dragon fruit is now available in beverage form.
A DECADE ago, a monk in Kuala Lumpur made a health drink out of dragon fruit. He shared this home-made brew with other monks. A Chinese sinseh who was the monks disciple was also treated to this nutritious drink whenever he visited the temple.
The sinseh, S.Y. Sin, was so taken with the dragon fruit enzyme drink that he asked for the recipe. He improved on the recipe and made the enzyme for his friends. After much coaxing from friends to commercialise the product, he decided to give it a shot.
Natures Farm Marketing factory manager S.C. Khoo with a bottle of dragon fruit enzyme.
Two years ago, Sin started Nature Farms Marketing Sdn Bhd in Selangor, which produces the dragon fruit enzyme for the local market. With its simple packaging in a dark bottle labelled Pitacacti Delight, one could mistake it for red wine.
The drink is now distributed to most states in Malaysia says Nature Farms general manager Caroll S.L. Khor, adding that there are plans to set up another factory to cope with increased production.
Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, long guo or strawberry pear, is a member of the cactus family, hence the name Pitacacti Delight for the bottled product, says Khor.
Local dragon fruits are used and sourced from farms all over Malaysia. The sinseh personally makes trips to source for the best fruits of the harvest. A 730ml bottle of the drink has 2.5kg of dragon fruits, which is about five to six fruits, she says.
The dragon fruit enzyme is sold in organic shops, Chinese medical halls and resorts. The company is targetting hypermarkets too.
As the red variety of dragon fruit is used, the drink itself is a deep rich maroon. Due to the fermentation process, the dragon fruit enzyme has 3.6% alcohol, and one would experience a warming sensation when consuming the drink.
The dragon fruit enzyme is not given halal certification because the halal status is only given if the product has less than 0.5% alcohol.
Bottling of the dragon fruit enzyme drink.
However, the Islamic Food Research Centre in Kuala Lumpur has indicated in a statement dated Dec 24, 2007, that Muslims can consume this drink because the enzyme does not come under the category of wine. The alcohol in the enzyme drink is a result of the natural fermentation process.
Natures Farm marketing factory manager S.C. Khoo, a qualified chemist, says: It takes two months to ferment the fruits to make dragon fruit enzyme drink using selected dragon fruits, fructose and lemons. No water is added.
A huge food-grade stainless steel tank, he says, can produce up to 35 to 40 cases (or 420 to 480 bottles) of dragon fruit enzyme each time.
The local dragon fruit season is from October to December, after which supply of the fruit would dwindle, says Khoo.
Enzymes help catalyse and regulate biochemical reactions in our body such as daily functioning of bodily cells, organs and tissues. Many diseases are said to be caused by the lack of active enzymes in our body.
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