Are you wondering about what does a dragon fruit tastes like? Pitaya or Dragon fruit looks so exotic, beautiful and tantalizing that everybody wants to try it. Name and looks can be deceiving. Dragon fruits look so exotic that you would think that it must taste delicious as well but in reality, the taste of dragon fruit is very bland.
On Rachael Ray’s show Rachael and Dr. Mehmet Oz sat down and tasted dragon fruit, along with the members of the audience and Rachael described it as “a weak kiwi” while Dr. Oz said, “It’s like the cauliflower of fruits.”
Some people say that the taste of dragon fruit is melon-like, and it reminds them of a cross between a kiwi and a watermelon. Others include pear in this description. Sometimes, the taste is described simply as tropical. Keep in mind that each person may experience the flavor of dragon fruit a bit differently, and texture has a lot to do with this perception.
What is a Dragon fruit?
You will be surprised to know that dragon fruit is actually a kind of cactus and is one of the most widely grown cactus species in the world. Dragon fruit grows on several species of cactus that were originally native to Mexico and later transplanted to other countries.
In Mexico dragon fruits are called pitaya or pitahaya and they are widely cultivated and eaten in Southeast Asia, Florida, the Caribbean, Australia, and throughout tropical and subtropical world regions.
The edible, mushy, pulp of the dragon fruit can vary in colors, which makes up 60 to 70% of the total fruit.
Origin of Dragon fruit
There have been different stories and assumptions of the origination of dragon fruit but none of them are really reliable.
According to the legend, dragon fruit was created thousands of years ago by fire breathing dragons. During a battle the dragons were breathing out fire with the fruit. When the dragon was slain the victorious soldiers collected the fruit and presented to their Emperor as a coveted treasure.
It is a folklore but, a lot of people find it interesting and to some extent believable since there are many other similar folktales about fruits from ancient times.
It is also believed that the dragon fruit is native to South and Central America and has been known since the early 1300’s and later introduced to Asia. Vietnam and Asia presently grow the fruit extensively and have made it one of their major export crops with supplies to other countries around the world.
Taste of Dragon Fruits
There are four different species of dragon fruit, but there are hybrids available within these four species. Hylocereus dragon fruit are made up of three different species, and Selenicereus has just one. But it is easier to divide dragon fruit varieties up by color; white, pink or red flesh and white or yellow skin. Dragon fruits taste varies depending on the type.
White Dragon Fruit (White Flesh/Pink Skin)
The most common variety of dragon fruit is white fleshed with pink skin which is found almost everywhere. The scientific name of this type is Hylocereus Undatus. Seeds inside the white flesh dragon fruits are actually very firm and very small. White dragon fruit is refreshing but it doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor like the dragon fruits with red or pink flesh. They are like kiwi fruit but flavorless. Depending on your taste buds you can add lemon or honey when you eat a white flesh dragon fruit to add some flavor.
In the markets this variety may be sold under the name Alice, Cosmic Charlie, David Bowe, Guyute, Harpua, L.A. Woman, Neitzel, Seoul Kitchen, Thompson and Vietnamese Jaina.
Red Dragon fruit (Pink Flesh/Pink Skin)
Red or Pink dragon fruit is more common in Asia than other western countries. The scientific name of this type is Hylocereus Polyrhizus. Red dragon fruits are sweeter in taste than the white fleshed variety and also rounder and larger in size. Red/Pink dragon fruits have a berry sort of taste.
In the markets this variety may be sold under the name Bloody Mary, Red Jania, Voodoo Child, sugar dragon, red dwarf, pink panther and Zamorano.
Yellow Dragon Fruit (White Flesh/Yellow Skin)
Yellow dragon fruits or Hylocereus megalanthus are the smallest, sweetest and also the rarest among the dragon fruit varieties. They also have little thorns off the sides. The seeds in the yellow skinned dragon fruits are bigger than the white and pink dragon fruits and the flesh is more jelly like or pulpy. Yellow dragon fruits have a sweeter taste similar like lychees.
This variety is grown primarily in South America. It’s not produced on the mass scale like the other varieties. This is sold only as yellow dragon fruit.
How to Choose Dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit can be found year-round, though the season peaks in Summer and lasts into early Autumn.
To choose a ripe dragon fruit, look for bright, even-colored skin. A few blemishes on the skin are normal, but if the fruit has a lot of blotches, it may be over-ripe.
Hold the dragon fruit in your palm and try pressing the skin with your thumb or fingers. It should give a little, but shouldn’t be too soft or mushy. If it’s very firm, it will need to ripen for a few days.
How to Store Dragon fruit
A ripe dragon fruit can sit on the counter for a few days. You can also store it for longer by placing the fruit in a sealed plastic bag and storing it in the refrigerator. Dragon fruit can pick up the flavors and odors of other food, so make sure to put it in a plastic bag or container when you store it in the refrigerator.
Don’t cut your dragon fruit until you’re ready to eat it. Once cut, it needs to be refrigerated in a tightly sealed container just like most cut fruits. It can remain fresh for a day, possibly a little longer, depending on how ripe it is. Once the flesh begins to turn brown and mushy, it’s time to toss it.
How do You Eat a Dragon fruit?
Dragon fruits are most commonly eaten raw as a fresh fruit. The fresh pulp under the skin is very attractive, and goes great in fruit salad. Dragon fruits can also be dried, made into jams, canned or jarred. Juice extracted for dragon fruits can be used to make cocktails.
Dragon fruits can be used for and with many other things, including sherbets, ice creams, and yogurt.
How to Cut or Open a Dragon fruit
With the intimidating look that dragon fruits have, it might be confusing knowing where to start with it. You can either cut through a dragon fruit or peel through it to get to the edible flesh.
Peeling is a bit more technical than cutting but once you get the hang of it; it is as easy as can be. To peel a dragon fruit, start from the top and then peel all the way down of the fruit. Use your thumb, the whole skin should peel along with it and leave white surrounding strands covering the inner flesh of the dragon fruit.
Cutting a dragon fruit is lot easier. First cut the core which is the long spiky tip, and then slice the dragon fruit into halves and gently scoop out plump with a spoon.
Removing the flesh of the fruit is quite simple and similar to an avocado (without the big seed). Note that the skin of dragon fruit is not edible.
Dragon fruit Nutrition
Dragon fruit is very high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They promote heart health, decrease cholesterol and can even help to reduce signs of aging, acne and sunburn.
According to the USDA Food Composition Database, here’s a rundown of the main nutrients in a one-cup serving (227 grams) of dragon fruit:
- Calories: 136
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 29 grams
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Iron: 8% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 9% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 4% of the RDI
What Are the Benefits of Dragon Fruit?
Because dragon fruit is full of vitamins and nutrients, and offers potentially disease-fighting antioxidants, it probably comes as no surprise that eating dragon fruit on a regular basis can have a positive influence on your health and wellness.
Let’s look at some possible health benefits of dragon fruits:
- Improves Cardiovascular Health
- Supports Your Immune System
- Aids Your Digestion
- Plays a Role in Cancer Prevention
- Lowers Blood Sugar in Diabetes
- Promotes Skin Health
- Reduces Inflammation
- More on the RA Diet
- Wards Off Anemia in Pregnancy
Dragon fruit Recipes
Dragon fruit Salad
- Dragon Fruit
- Kiwi Fruit
- Combine the fruits in a medium bowl and stir gently to mix the fruits
- Top with finely shredded mint leaves
Dragon fruit Smoothies
- Red Dragon fruit
- Coconut water
- Vanilla powder
- Hemp seeds
- Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth
- Top with hemp seeds
Dragon fruit Cocktail
Frozen Dragon Fruit Margaritas
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 2 cups ice
- 12 ounces frozen dragon fruit
- 6 ounces frozen pineapple
- 1 cup tequila
- 1/2 cup orange liqueur
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- Salt – to rim glasses
- Pineapple wedges, dragon fruit, and lime – to garnish
- Add the pineapple juice, ice, dragon fruit, and frozen pineapple to a large high-speed blender. Pulse a few times to start the blending process.
- Add the tequila, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice to the blender and process until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add additional pineapple juice (or tequila) as needed to help move things along. I wanted my margarita to be thick and smoothie-like so it took a little patience and stopping to mix with a spatula before processing again before I got the consistency I wanted.
- Rim the desired number of glasses with sugar or salt and garnish with fresh pineapple, dragon fruit, and lime wedges, if desired.