Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is a vibrant and exotic fruit that not only tantalizes the taste buds but also offers a host of health benefits. Its striking appearance, with its bright pink or yellow skin and speckled flesh, makes it a favorite among food enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals alike.
If you’re new to this tropical delight or looking for ways to enhance your dragon fruit-eating experience, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we will explore how to select, prepare, and eat dragon fruit to make the most of its unique flavor and nutritional value. So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of dragon fruits and discover the secrets to savoring this intriguing fruit.
What is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit is a unique fruit that grows on the Hylocereus cactus, also known as the Honolulu queen. What’s fascinating is that the flowers of this cactus only bloom at night. Originally hailing from southern Mexico and Central America, it has spread worldwide and is now cultivated in various regions.
Dragon fruit goes by several names, such as pitaya, pitahaya, and strawberry pear. The most common types have bright red skin with green scales, resembling a dragon’s skin, which is how it got its name.
When you cut open a dragon fruit, you’ll usually find two main varieties. The first, and most widely available, has white pulp with small black seeds. There’s also a less common type with red pulp and black seeds. Additionally, there’s a yellow dragon fruit variety with yellow skin, white pulp, and black seeds.
While dragon fruit may seem exotic with its vibrant appearance, its taste is surprisingly familiar. People often describe its flavor as a mildly sweet combination of a kiwi and a pear, making it a delightful addition to your fruit-eating experience.
Dragon Fruit Varieties
Look for these four main types of dragon fruit:
Pink skin with white flesh (Hylocereus undatus)
This is the most common variety and has a milder sweetness. You might find it under names like Alice, Cosmic Charlie, David Bowie, and others.
Pink skin with red or pink flesh (Hylocereus polyrhizus): This kind is longer and sweeter than the white-fleshed variety. Look for names like Bloody Mary, Red Jaina, Voodoo Child, and Zamorano.
Pink skin with purple flesh (Hylocereus guatemalensis)
This striking dragon fruit is sometimes sold as “American Beauty.”
Yellow skin with white flesh (Selenicereus megalanthus): These dragon fruits are the smallest and sweetest of the bunch. They can be a bit harder to find, but they’re worth the search.
Dragon Fruit Health Benefits
Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients that are great for your health. It’s a good source of fiber, which is good for your gut. It also provides a healthy dose of immune-boosting vitamin C and sleep-promoting magnesium, and it’s one of the few plant sources of iron. Plus, like many fruits, it’s mostly water, which helps keep you hydrated.
According to the USDA’s FoodData Central database, a 3 ½-ounce serving of dragon fruit gives you:
- 60 calories.
- No fat.
- 1 gram of protein.
- 13 grams of carbohydrates.
- 3 grams of fibre.
- 8 grams of sugar.
- 3% of your daily vitamin C needs.
- 4% of your daily iron needs.
- 10% of your daily magnesium needs.
How to Cut Dragon Fruit
To get the best experience from dragon fruit, buy it whole and slice it when you’re ready to eat. Keep it on your counter until you’re ready to cut it.
If you have any leftover sliced dragon fruit, put it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to a day. If it starts to turn brown or get too mushy, throw it away.
Cutting a dragon fruit is easy. You’ll need a cutting board and a sharp knife. First, slice the fruit from top to bottom to make two halves. Then, use a spoon to separate the flesh from the skin.
Check for any remaining bits of skin and remove them. Finally, you can either cube or slice the flesh for a simple snack or use it in various dragon fruit recipes.
For a unique way to serve it, you can also use a melon baller to create small, round pieces that you can pop into your mouth or add to a fruit salad.
How to Eat Dragon Fruit
Now, let’s get to the exciting part – how to enjoy dragon fruit! Most commonly, it’s eaten fresh, but you can also incorporate it into grilled fruit recipes if you like.
You can savor ripe dragon fruit by:
- Enjoying it in a frozen dessert like sorbet.
- Mixing it into a cocktail – ever tried a Dragon Fruit Sparkling Sangria?
- Make a fruit salsa that you can scoop up with chips or use as a topping for tacos, fish dishes, or poke bowls.
- Blending it into a smoothie or using it as a delightful topping for a smoothie bowl.
What does dragon fruit taste like?
Dragon fruit has a flavor often described as a blend of pear and kiwi with a hint of citrus. It’s mildly sweet, and the flesh is soft enough to be easily scooped with a spoon.
Can you eat dragon fruit daily?
Absolutely! Dragon fruit is a fantastic source of vitamin C and antioxidants, so there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy it every day if you like. Just remember, because it’s high in fiber, eating too much at once may cause gas, bloating, or cramping.
Which color of dragon fruit has more health benefits?
The pink dragon fruit with red flesh contains the highest levels of betalains, which can help reduce bad cholesterol.
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