The dragon fruit is a category of fruit mainly cultivated in tropical regions. It also has several names depending on the genus: pitaya, pitahaya, night-blooming cereus, or straw berry pear.
This tropical fruit grows by climbing on a type of cactus known as Hylocereus.
This brightly colored fruit derives its name dragon because of the scally outer skin that resembles a dragon.
It consists of beautiful tiny black seeds that complement the colors of the flesh that vary from white flesh with yellow or pink skin to deep red, or hot pink is primarily innate to South America, Mexico, and Central America.
In Asia, it was introduced by the French, specifically in Vietnam (the top producer of dragon fruit in Asia) in the early 1800 years and spread to other countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Srilanka, and Taiwan. In addition, Australia and Israel cultivate it for domestic use and also for export.
Dragon fruit is the first growing fruit, and once established, it can produce up to 20 years. It contains fiber, iron, proteins, and antioxidants. Although it is also found in food items such as yogurt, juice, jellies, and smoothies, the red dragon can also be used to establish dye.
Varieties of dragon fruits
Dragon fruit varieties are best described with their appearance. This is because it is appealing or considered a more dramatic fruit because of the extra vibrant color, sweetness, or juicy in that regard. All the varieties have black seeds, which are equally edible
- White dragon fruit/pitaya Blanca
It has a vibrant pink skin and white flesh, accompanied by black seeds, which complement the white color. It is famously grown dragon fruit which is readily available in the supermarket.
It has popular varieties such as Vietnamese Jaina, David Bowie, LA woman, Seoul kitchen, Thompson, Alice, and guyete, among others. Although it is a popular variety, it is also considered the less sweet.
- Pink dragon fruit
This variety comes with pink skin and hot pink or soft rose flesh. It is much bigger and sweeter than the white dragon. You can find in the stores sold with names such as American beauty, Makisupa, delight, Makisupa cosmic Charlie, voodoo child, dark star, and purple haze.
- Red dragon fruit/ pitaya Roja
The red dragon fruits have a pink skin with bustling red flesh. It also has characteristics such as juicier and sweeter and can be best used as an ingredient for blending. It comes in varieties such as the Zamorano, costa Rican sunset, red Jaina natural mystic (named after Bob Marley tune).
- Yellow dragon fruit/ Pitaya Amarilla
It is considered the sweetest, with a lovely scent variety of dragon fruit. It has yellow skin and white flesh. It is covered with threatening spiky thorns, which makes it resemble the traditional cactus.
All good things are rare in their existence, and just like gold, so is this fruit variety. Although there is only one variety for its kind, it is said that before taking them to the store during harvesting, it is pretty strenuous when it comes to removing the spikes; for this reason, they are rarely available.
- Sour dragon fruit
This dragon fruit is typically prevalent in central and south America; it is mainly cultivated in the arid regions. Unlike other dragon fruits, this type is sour but is the juiciest of them all. This variety has been the staple for the native people living in the regions.
Is dragon fruit a fruit
The dragon fruit is known as an indigenous species of the Cactaceae and the most popularly grown species of its kind. It is a tropical fruit but also used as an ornamental vine, it may look exotic, but its flavors resemble a cross between kiwi and pear.
Its vibrant red flesh, sweet seeds, and acclaimed superfood powers make it popular among people watching their weight and those who aim to keep healthy nutrition. The fruit is readily available in the stores and supermarkets worldwide, either fresh or frozen, you don’t have to live in the tropical regions to get access to it.
How does dragon fruit taste like?
If you haven’t tried eating the dragon fruit and you may be interested in knowing how they taste, here is some information you might find handy.
It has a delicate and mildly sweet taste that resembles that of a pear that is not ripe. It has a firm, juicy, creamy, and crispy to a chewy texture. The dragon has little to no scent, unlike many tropical fruits.
The seeds are equally edible, just like the seeds of kiwi. The presence of the seeds also adds to the flesh another dimension which is amazing chia-like crunchiness.
The skin, on the other hand, is the only part that is mainly considered inedible. However, according to some nutritionists, you can also consume the skin as it comes with more health benefits making it edible and not poisonous as we are made to think.
As discussed below, it is easy to separate the flesh from the skin by not peeling off but cutting into two halves and scooping.
Remember, the dragon fruit may not taste as it appears to be, so do not have high expectations while biting into it because the flavors might not be as bright as the fruit. However, you can be driven by the benefits of eating this fruit as it has a lot of health benefits that should make you consider trying.
Is dragon fruit sweet
You can never generalize and conclude that all dragon fruits are sweet fruit because it hugely depends on the variety of dragon fruit you are consuming. In this case, the best way to describe it with its sweetness is by comparing the different varieties.
The yellow dragon fruit, which originates from Ecuador and Colombia, is the sweetest variety. It has white flesh and tough yellow skin. The red dragon fruit is sweet but not compared to the yellow dragon. It has a red flesh with pink skin. In this variety also the darker the flesh, the sweeter the taste.
Pink dragon fruit is less sweet than the red dragon fruit, while the white dragon fruit is considered the least sweet.
How to choose a dragon fruit?
If it’s your first experience with dragon fruit and you have no idea what to look for while choosing the right dragon fruit, you can watch for the following tips and look for the shiny, brightly, and evenly pink skin. If it has too much brown color, wrinkled with a dry and shrunken stem, avoid picking that one as it might have spoiled.
Also, suppose the Dragon fruit is firm, In which case, you can buy and store it for a few days to ripen. Then, preferably, leave the fruit over the counter to ripen. Avoid refrigerating while it is on the verge of ripening if you intend to get the most out of this fruit. It’s best to buy during peak seasons which begin in summer and last to autumn.
How to make dragon fruit taste better?
Once you have familiarized yourself with this fruit, you may wonder how else you can make this fruit better. There are multiple ways you can add zest to whatever it is you are consuming using dragon fruit. See below for more information
- Use it in making dragon fruit ice creams
You can make dragon fruit taste better by including it as an ingredient in making ice cream. You can make a perfect frosty taste with the dragon fruit. You can use a vegan, gluten-free, or dairy-free recipe or include all this and still make the best ice cream. You can try this dragon fruit pink ice cream recipe and wow your loved ones with this Exotic taste.
- Incorporate it in salads
Dragon fruit can add a mild flavor to your salads depending on which one you prefer: fruity or leafy green salad like spinach. It adds some subtle flavor. The sweet summer salad can be served for breakfast, parties, lunch, and more. You can try this recipe for dragon fruit salad with tons of berries and other fresh fruits to make a bustling fresh fruit salad.
- Incorporate into smoothies
Smoothies are a fast and easy way to get some more energy on a busy day. So what other way can you add some vital energy than to use a dragon fruit smoothie made by adding strawberries, cinnamon, banana, honey almond, and milk? Of course, everything is thrown in a blender to make this refreshing juicy treat.
- Use dragon fruit for dressing the main course
Here you can break the traditional way of making chips with salsa and instead add some delicious tasty dragon fruit to make a completely healthy snack. In short, you don’t only use dragon fruit as a side dish but also for dressing the main course, like using it as a topping for salmon, Mahi Mahi, or fish.
You can also add dragon fruit to a bowl of, lemon juice diced jalapeno, chives mixed well, and let it sit for an hour to make the ingredients sip into each other.
- Generate spectacular bowls
This can be a test of your creative mind because you have to use your mind to pull this through. Aside from making breakfast smoothies, you can incorporate dragon fruit to make other tasty recipes for a refreshing breakfast.
You can use coconut water, almond milk, and dragon fruit blended well for an ice-cream consistency and dispensed into a bowl, then add other toppings of your liking to make an outstanding finish. Or you can make overnight oatmeal for your breakfast.
- Blending in cocktail
If you need to feel exquisite and maybe be in a position to deal with any challenge, then try this fantastic dragon fruit mojito recipe by muddling dragon fruit, vanilla mint, and rum and top it up with sparkling water.
You can prepare this recipe in advance if you intend to give it to a large crowd. You only need to muddle in all the ingredients except for the water, and then once the guest arrives, you can now add in ice and top it with some lime and mint. Many other cocktail recipes range from sweet to spicy cocktails you can try with pitaya.
- Dragon fruit with dessert
Dragon fruit can also be infused to make desserts like incorporating it in cakes, macarons, cookies, and any other dessert you might think about.
- Use it in branch breakfast
You can make the pancakes using pitaya, coconut, and pineapples and find an excuse to wow your family members. Here instead of using the regular flour, you can use oatmeal flour which is much healthier and brings a zest of flavor to your pancake. Try this coconut, pineapple and pitaya pancake recipe
- Incorporate in savory dishes
Suppose you are looking forward to adding a more versatile ingredient to your savory food. In that case, you can definitely try dragon fruit in your list of ingredients, see how amazing the food turns out, and add some spectacular color to it. Also, you can try it on vegan fried rice. It gives a balance of sweet and savory, which is a perfect combo for a mouth-watering dish.
How to state if a dragon fruit is red or white
You can only tell either white or red dragon fruit by their difference in their appearance. You can watch out for this scales, flowers, and branches.
The tips of the flowers in the red variety are much redder than those of the white dragon. The white variety, in some instances, has a yellow or white tip. Both the variants have scented flowers.
Red dragon fruit has curvy and scales or ears. They are shaped as tiny tringles on the fruit surface. Red scales have more number of darker and narrower scales than those found in the white dragon fruit.
You cannot quickly tell the difference between red and white fruit by Marely looking at their branches; however, you can tell a slight difference in the quantity of the thorns as branches of the red dragon has more thorns than the white fruit
How to tell if a dragon fruit is ripe
Similar to some fruits like strawberries and apples, Dragon fruits are typically sold when they are already ripe. If not, they are harvested, and they ripen during transportation.
Their availability is found throughout the year in the stores and groceries, and you get the fruit produce four to six times a year. This is because the harvesting period varies in different regions. Its peak seasons are during summer and fall.
Dragon fruit can stay fresh in the market between 14 to 17days, as long as it is stored in a refrigerator under 50 degrees with no mist.
Here is how you can tell the dragon fruit is ready
Ripe dragon fruit has an evenly bright pink color with smooth skin. It should not be rock hard but simply firm. In case it is still hard, give it a few days to ripen. It will be helpful to note that if the flesh is marshy, then the dragon fruit has over ripened.
How to cut a dragon fruit?
Take your fruit, and place it on the kitchen counter using a knife. First, cut it into equal half depending on the variety the flesh could be white, pink, or red. Subsequently, use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh into two large halves. It’s best to scoop with a spoon rather than peel off the skin since pealing it might leave the skin particles, which at this point you may be avoiding.
Be keen to remove any skin that might remain stuck on the flesh, then cut the flesh and serve as you wish. You can also reserve the skin to use as a bowl for serving salads before discarding it.
How to eat dragon fruit?
The fruit is described as intimidating; however, it is very safe to eat the flesh and the seeds while you can use the skin as a striking, beautiful bowl plus, the flesh has low-calorie contents and is high in fiber and vitamin c.
There are many ways you can explore when it comes to eating this food. Once you have cut it, the most prominent way is to eat it while it is raw, scooping the flesh and eating it. While the dragon fruit can be delicious on its own, it is even way better when served as smoothie, desserts, or salad and can also be used in drinks
You can also substitute dragon fruit in recipes that have kiwi and can blend well with mangoes, papaya, pineapple mangoes, and berries
Frequently asked questions
- What is dragon fruit good for?
Dragon fruit is a nutritious fruit that comprises nutrients such as fiber, vitamin c, proteins, magnesium, iron that help in boosting your immunity. Minerals like magnesium assist in breaking down food into energy. In addition, it boosts your iron levels, contains prebiotics that promotes a healthy gut, helps indigestion, and the presence of antioxidants assists in reducing inflammation, which helps fight chronic disease.
- Why is it not healthy to consume dragon fruit skin?
Traditionally most of us think that dragon fruit skin is not edible and it’s poisonous. The truth is you can eat the skin; however, it has an unpleasant taste, but it has nutrients and can be consumed. If you have to eat it, make sure you have cleaned it well to remove any traces of pesticide, and you can cook it or maybe sauté it in vegetables.
The dragon fruit skin has numerous minerals like vitamin C, vitamin A iron, and magnesium, which are equally beneficial to your health.
- What fruits go well with dragon fruits?
Dragon fruit has a subtle sweet taste which is compatible with most fruits like bananas. Pineapple, kiwi oranges, and strawberries
- How do you store dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit is harvested by the farmers when it is almost ripe; hence it has a short shelf life. Therefore, ripe dragon fruit will stay fresh for 24 hours when left over the counter. While takes one week when stored on the fridge and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3months.
On the counter
If you plan to eat the fruit in the next 2 – 4 days, then you can store it over the counter. During storage, please do not mix it with other flavourful foods as it can absorb the flavors. Also, putting it at ambient temperature may make the fruit ripen faster; hence always be watchful
In the fridge
You only put the dragon fruit in the fridge when it is ripe, also note that cutting the dragon fruit and placing it in the fridge in an airtight container may reduce its shelf life.
In the freezer
When storing your dragon fruit in the freezer, do not store it whole this will affect its texture during thawing as the inside will remain frozen while the outside becomes marshy.
Slice the flesh into small cubes, take a sheet pan, drizzle some baking powder on it, and place the cubes not touching each other and leave it overnight. After fully frozen, take an airtight container, transfer the cubes, and put it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
This information has made it easier for those who still have doubts about whether or not to try this fruit. You have seen the benefits of dragon fruit, the different varieties that one can look out for in the market, and the fact that you can get it all year round.
If you can’t consume it raw, there are many fun ways to incorporate this fruit into your recipe. I guess by the time you are going through this information, you might want to grab your basket and ran to the nearest store to have this fruit because no tropical fruits speak more versatility to color, flavor, tastes, and health benefits than the dragon fruit thanks to all this information