What is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit grows in Mexico, Central, and South America and is a variety of prickly pear cactus fruit. It gets its name from its appearance, with its vibrant, scaly skin resembling that of a dragon. It looks spectacular and a bit daunting but is very easy to work with and is delicious. In Spanish, dragon fruit is called the pitaya or pitahaya.
In Mexico, many cactus fruits are eaten like the “tuna,” the sweet fruit of one type of prickly pear cactus and the xoconostle, the sour fruit of another. The two most common types of dragon fruit are the white-fleshed and red-fleshed varieties. The white-fleshed dragon fruit, also known as Hylocereus undatus, is characterized by its creamy flesh speckled with tiny black seeds. On the other hand, the red-fleshed dragon fruit, known as Hylocereus costaricensis, has a colorful magenta interior and a slightly sweeter taste. Both varieties are visually appealing and have a refreshing, mildly sweet flavor that is often likened to a blend of kiwi and pear. The seeds are edible.
How to Cut Dragon Fruit
The fruit looks a little scary and tough but it is easy to cut and clean. Slice the fruit in half lengthwise.
Use a small knife to separate the flesh of the fruit from the outer skin. Discard the skin.
Once you have removed the flesh from the outer skin, cut the fruit into slices or cubes depending on how you plan to use it.
Dragon fruit slices with the skin on make a beautiful garnish.
How to Choose Dragon Fruit
Look at the exterior of the fruit. A ripe dragon fruit will have a bright and evenly colored skin, free from any blemishes or soft spots. The color can vary between vibrant pink, yellow, or red, depending on the variety. Choose a fruit with a skin that feels firm but not overly hard. Give the fruit a gentle squeeze. A ripe dragon fruit should give slightly when pressed, but it should not be too soft. If the fruit feels too soft or mushy, it may be overripe.
Pay attention to the scales or spikes on the fruit’s skin. The scales should be firm, without any signs of wilting or drooping. Avoid fruits with scales that appear shriveled or withered, as they may be past their prime..
How to Use Dragon Fruit
One of the simplest ways to enjoy dragon fruit is by slicing it open and scooping out the flesh with a spoon. The bright magenta or white interior of the fruit is soft and juicy, with a texture reminiscent of kiwi or pear.
Dragon fruit can be blended into refreshing smoothies, aquas frescas or added to homemade sorbets and ice creams. Its naturally creamy texture lends itself well to frozen desserts. Experiment with combinations of dragon fruit, coconut milk, and other fruits like mango or pineapple. It’s also a great addition to a Mexican fruit salad.