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Innovative Breakthrough: ICAR-IIHR Develops Technology to Prepare Ready-to-Serve Dragon Fruit Juice

ICAR-IIHR introduces innovative technology for preparing Ready-to-Serve Dragon Fruit Juice, aiming to meet rising demand and promote sustainable horticulture practices.

Shivam Dwivedi
Innovative Breakthrough: ICAR-IIHR Develops Technology to Prepare Ready-to-Serve Dragon Fruit Juice
Innovative Breakthrough: ICAR-IIHR Develops Technology to Prepare Ready-to-Serve Dragon Fruit Juice

To harness the natural goodness and vibrant hues of dragon fruit, the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) has developed a breakthrough technology for the creation of a Ready-to-Serve (RTS) beverage derived from this exotic fruit. Commonly known as pitaya or kamalam, the dragon fruit belongs to the Cactaceae family and is renowned for its distinct red and white flesh varieties, cultivated in various countries including Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and China.

In India, the cultivation of dragon fruit spans approximately 3,000 hectares, with a surging demand prompting the Government of India (GOI) to target an expansion to 50,000 hectares within the next five years. Currently priced at Rs 150-200/kg in the market, the fruit is primarily consumed fresh, as a salad, or in the form of freshly squeezed juice at juice shops and restaurants.

Apart from its delectable taste, dragon fruit is recognized for its rich reserves of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, betalains, and antioxidants, known for their potential to reduce the risk of various non-communicable diseases. The distinctive pink colour of the fruit and its juice is attributed to the pigment betalains.

Despite its popularity, the availability of ready-to-serve beverages derived from dragon fruit in packaged form is scarce in India's commercial market and e-platforms. This scarcity is partly due to the inherent challenges posed by the tiny seeds and unique pulp nature of the fruit, making it complex to prepare a ready-to-serve beverage.

ICAR-IIHR has developed a revolutionary RTS beverage from dragon fruit, employing a method that removes the seeds and mucilage while retaining the fruit's exotic color and flavor profile. The resulting beverage offers consumers a refreshing, lighter taste experience with a vivid pink hue. With a shelf life of six months under ambient conditions, the beverage stands out for its natural composition, devoid of synthetic flavors or colors.

Apart from the RTS beverage, ICAR-IIHR scientists are also exploring the potential of dragon fruit pulp powder as an ingredient for various products. Ongoing research endeavors include the development of different naturally flavored dragon fruit RTS beverages, showcasing the institute's commitment to innovation and leveraging the nutritional benefits of indigenous produce.

Dr. Pushpa Chethan Kumar, Senior Scientist at ICAR-IIHR, provided this information to Krishi Jagran. This new technology is marking a significant milestone in promoting sustainable horticulture practices and enhancing value-added product offerings in the market.

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