When it comes to tropical fruits, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve tried many of them. For example, you’ve probably enjoyed staples like pineapple, coconut, and banana all your life without really giving them much thought. In some parts of the world, dragon fruit (also called pitaya) is a staple, but surprisingly, there are many Americans who have never even tried it. Here’s everything you need to know about dragon fruit.
What Is a Dragon Fruit, Anyway?
A fresh dragon fruit resembles a cactus blossom. It’s usually red or yellow in color with a variety of green-tipped “spines” that are very reminiscent of succulents. There’s a good reason for this - dragon fruit is a member of the cactus family, and it’s a very delicious one. The flesh inside a dragon fruit is the part that is edible, and it can come in two colors - white or red. It’s also flecked with tiny black seeds, and unlike many of the other tropical fruits you’ve tried, dragon fruit is a more liquidy or even gelatinous consistency rather than solid like a pineapple or coconut.
What Does it Taste Like?
Though it’s difficult to really describe the flavor of dragon fruit (and you should try it for yourself!), it’s usually compared with a mild-tasting fruit like kiwi or even pear - or a combination of the two. It has a sweet taste, but only mildly. This makes it perfect for numerous applications, whether you prefer to eat it as is or add it to your favorite fruit salad, beverage, or even recipe. The small black seeds in the flesh of the fruit are edible and they provide a rather satisfying crunch that pairs nicely with the fruit’s texture.
How to Prepare a Dragon Fruit
Unlike other fruits such as apples, pineapples, and coconuts, you should not cut into your dragon fruit until you are ready to eat it. Otherwise, it will dry out and turn an unappetizing color relatively quickly, which also affects the taste. Most people opt to slice the entire fruit in half down the center, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon and eat it right out of the shell. Dragon fruit is easily pureed for use in sauces and beverages, and it’s even possible to make homemade dragon fruit pudding! If you want to get creative with this one, try rinsing out the fruit’s shell and using it as the vessel for the pudding.
Choosing a Dragon Fruit
Now that you’re excited to add dragon fruit to your menu, you’ll probably want to know how to choose a ripe and flavorful fruit that is ready to be enjoyed. You should look for:
- 3 types of dragon fruit, yellow, white, and red. The yellow and white dragon fruit have a white flesh with black seeds, and the red dragon fruit has a redish skin but a bright magenta flesh.
- Bright, even color across the entire skin. (Green at the tips of the petal-like protrusions is normal.)
- Fruit that gives only slightly when you press into it, but isn’t so soft that it feels squishy. If it’s hard, it’s underripe; if it’s soft, it’s overripe. Look for fruit right in the middle if you want to enjoy it right away.
Like other fruits, you can purchase dragon fruit slightly under ripe if you don’t plan to use it right away. Just place it on the counter for a few days and let mother nature do all the work. If the fruit starts to become too soft, put it in a sealed bag or container and transfer it to the fridge, where it should keep for another few days.
Of course, the best way to buy and enjoy dragon fruit is to order it in a tropical fruit box that is delivered directly to your home. You can choose a variety box that tend to include this delectable treat, or you can buy an entire box filled with nothing but various varieties of dragon fruit. Each variety has its own unique flavor and texture, so be sure to try them all to find your favorite.