Monday, 13 November 2023, 18:12
Malaga actress Rocío Madrid wants to grow dragon fruit in the Axarquía, a fruit known as a superfood for its high fibre and levels of Vitamin B and C.
The well-known actress has already grown some at her farm, finca La Mística. Also known as pitaya, it is largely made up of water. It is native to central America and Asia and wrapped in a kind of scaly coating but looks beautiful when it hangs from the tree.
Its insides ranges from lilac to violet and is dotted with small black polka dot seeds. From the outside, it is clearly one of the most charming fruits on the market. On the inside, it has an aromatic and light taste. It is also low in calories. It can be eaten by the spoonful or with meat and fish. "Until now, most of the pitayas you can buy in supermarkets are imported from countries like Ecuador when they are still green," said Rocío Madrid.
The pitayas of the Malaga actress are not only ripe when they are cut, they are also natural without any pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. They have no preservatives or artificial flavourings either. To discover Rocío Madrid's fruit haven you have to first drive to Benajarafe. From there, near the football pitch, you follow a narrow lane until you arrive at the finca La Mística, which stretches across 10,000 square metres.
Behind a pool, the pitaya plantation stands in several perfectly aligned rows. The land she bought in 2017 evokes simplicity and Mediterranean elegance. The cortijo, the main building that now serves as her home, was not a complete ruin but it did require countless hours of work and some investment to turn it into the jewel it is today. "For me, this is not just a house or a place to disconnect. It's a life project," she said. Pitayas La Mística is one of the few producers of pitayas in Malaga province. "It's my way of giving something back to the land," said Rocío Madrid.
Rocío Madrid believes the product has potential to make its way into the shopping basket and pointed out the fruit's nutritional benefits. In addition to a high fibre content, pitaya contains vitamin B, vitamin C and various minerals such as iron, phosphorus and calcium.
Pitaya belongs to the cactus family, so it does not require a lot of water. That does not mean it is an easy plant. The flowers have to be pollinated by hand. The process of cutting the fruit is also delicate. "If you cut it two or three days too early, it already loses a lot of flavour," Rocío Madrid said. Some of her pitayas are exported to the Netherlands, while she is also in negotiations with a number of national growers.
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