Dragon fruit looks so summery. Who’d think this exotic tropical charmer is a fall fruit—not to mention the fruit of a genus of cactus?
Lightly sweet and pleasantly crunchy, dragon fruit, also called pitaya, is too alluring to pass by.
Pitaya is the fruit’s indigenous name in its home territory, Central America. Dragon fruit, which sounds more tempting, is the name bestowed by Asian growers. Depending on the species, the skin is textured like dragon’s flesh.
Dragon fruit is now grown in California and Florida, making it more available in U.S. markets.
Depending on the species, the skin ranges in color from hot pink to red. There is also a yellow variety that has a more spiky, dragon-like texture. The flesh can be white, pink or magenta and has tiny, edible black seeds similar to those in kiwifruit.
Dragon fruit species range from magenta to yellow in color. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.
The fruit is a bit of a tease. The exterior looks resplendent but the flesh is on the mild side: like a watermelon that is only mildly sweet. The flavor comes up best when the fruit is chilled. Some varieties (look for the yellow skins) are more tart, which makes them more refreshing.
So what’s the big deal?
Whenever something is exotic and seasonal, it’s reason enough to bring it to the table. The arresting-looking dragon fruit may not taste as luscious as the homely mango, but it’s crunchy and interesting. Or, in the word most used to describe dragon fruit, it’s exotic.
How To Eat Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit should be refrigerated, unwashed, for up to 5 days, and served chilled. To eat dragon fruit, just wash and peel it. Refrigerate cut fruit in an airtight container.
Enjoy it in:
The Skin: Carefully remove the fruit from the skin, cube it and return it to the skin for serving. We toss the cubes with fresh lime juice. You can also add pomegranate arils, shredded coconut, a brunoise (tiny dice) of other fruit or anything that appeals to you.
Cocktails: Mix the puréed fruit with gin, tequila or vodka and garnish with a slice of the whole fruit.
Sorbet: Substitute dragon fruit in any fruit sorbet recipe.
Fruit Salad: A curiosity in any fruit salad, dragon fruit especially works in a tropical fruit salad, with guava, mango and papaya.
Garnish: As a sweet or savory garnish or a drink garnish.
Dragon fruit is very nutritious, delivering B vitamins, calcium, carotene, fiber, phosphorous and vitamin C. The typical dragon fruit has 60 calories, reflecting the low sweetness level.
If you can’t find it locally, you can order it at Melissas.com.
Find more of our favorite fruits and fruit recipes in our Gourmet Fruits Section.