Those Thang Ioys Though

Just when I’d given up on finding fresh, organic thang ioy – otherwise known as dragon fruit, pitahaya, or pitaya – there it is. I was at my favorite organic market, Foodworks, this weekend, when I spotted a big basket of bright pink thang ioy.

You’ve might have seen thang ioy at supermarkets. It’s hard to miss: thang ioy is about the weirdest-looking fruit you’ll see in the produce section of an ordinary supermarket. Other than rambutan, which is also weird looking (and delicious), thang ioy is imported to the U.S. for people like myself who love strange, sweet tropical fruits.

Thang ioy is the gorgeous fruit of a cactus plant that grows naturally in Central and South America and Southeast Asia. Now, it’s cultivated in California and is grown organically in many areas there. Thang ioy is PINK – as in neon magenta, as in mind-blowing, hot hot pink. It has a complex, interesting shape. Thang ioy ranges in size from a large pear to a small pineapple. Some varieties have neon pink flesh, some have white flesh. They all have tasty, small black seeds.

The variety I just found is California-grown pitahaya (hylocereus costaricensis), which has a deep pink flesh with the consistency of kiwi. Thang ioy has become very popular recently, especially among smoothie enthusiasts, who love the insane magenta color it lends to their smoothies. Aside from its technicolor properties, thang ioy is low calorie, has a good amount of fiber (about 1 gram per fruit), is high in micronutrients vitamins A and C and calcium, and is rich in antioxidants. The seeds contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

I found the mother lode of thang ioy this weekend, and though it’s pricey, I bought a lot. I won’t find another basket of these organic pretties any time soon. I had gone to Foodworks for Bronner’s Sal Suds for our laundry, turmeric root and bananas for smoothies, berbere spice for hummus, and shampoo for my husband, but ended up spending everything I had on thang ioy.

The bottom line for me is that, like all tropical fruits, it’s delicious, sweet, and refreshing. But I also love its color. I like pretty food, and I especially like pretty food that’s bright pink. And of course, I’ll plant some of the seeds and see what happens. A thang ioy tree in the house? Why not?

We are so deep into our own organic peaches now that it’s crazy. We’ve been picking them off our trees every day. I made my mom a peach cobbler and brought her a giant bag of fresh peaches. I’m ripening about 50 peaches now and this week, plan to make more cobbler. We gave our neighbors peaches, and a few of my friends want some. I think I’ll make a few jars of simple, no-pectin peach jam. And a friend has told me to try grilling some peaches, so grilled peaches are also on the menu.

Look at these gorgeous peaches:

I’m so thrilled with the peach production this year, but I suspect the trees will rest next summer. We plan on giving them one last feeding in September, and a light pruning. Thank you, our little orchard, for such amazing abundance.

Since it’s August 28, I also want to thank summer for giving us so much again this year. Although my husband and I lost a loved one at the start of the season, with the close of it, we find our hearts healing and we’re remembering her with laughter instead of tears.

Summer has just blown by. The light is changing: it has the long slant and muted yellow tones of autumn. Days are getting noticeably shorter. There are no more baby birds in our birdhouse (we had three families raise their young in it this summer). We’ll probably still see a few days of summer heat, but they’ll be tempered by shorter days and cooler nights.
Yesterday, my husband and I were talking about Aspen. I started thinking about a day trip to Vermont and Moon Dog Café. I even bought fleece leggings over the weekend, and a book to read on the first weekend that it’s too cold to go out on the water.

Thank you, summer, for warming our gardens and giving us food, for sending us the healing power of the sun, and for helping us heal and detoxify through sweat; for sun tea, tank tops, tan lines, fresh herbs, awesome peaches, cicada song, and summer retreats; and for warm memories that we’ll recall through the long, cold Connecticut winter. Thank you for always coming back to us.

Much love,
Barbie xo

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