If you’re looking for a showstopping tropical fruit to add to a dessert tray, look no further than Dragon Fruit. Dragon fruit sounds mysterious and obscure – like something you’d have to go on a long journey to obtain. It turns out that dragon fruit is available to buy in many grocery stores, some farmer’s markets, and at any specialty Asian grocer.
Check out our great How To section for more exotic fruit and vegetables. You will be surprised what you can find in your grocery store.
Dragon fruit gets its moniker from its scaly skin because at first glance it does look rather like a dragon’s hide. Fortunately, in this case, looks are deceiving and the skin isn’t tough and leathery. It can be easily cut with a knife.
It’s also called pitaya or strawberry pear but those names aren’t anywhere near as evocative (they’re also less likely to get picky eaters to try it – I’ve known several younger children who were enticed to try dragon fruit simply by the name).
Dragon Fruit Varietals
Dragon fruit is native to Mexico, Central, and South America but in recent years it has become very popular in Southeast Asia. It’s a member of the cactus family which helps explain the spikes/scales on the skin. There are 3 varieties yellow skin with white flesh, pink skin with red flesh (red dragon fruit), and pink / light red skin with white flesh.
The pink or light red skin with white flesh variety is by far the most common. These are the ones you’re most likely to find in Canadian and United States grocery stores. On pink-skinned dragon fruit, the scales are yellow to green and provide a striking contrast. The white flesh is full of tiny black seeds that are edible (very similar to a kiwi’s black seeds). The yellow-skinned variety is hard to find as it’s not a commercial crop but it’s also the sweetest of all the varieties.
The flavor of this fruit has a sweet taste and has been equated to a cross between a kiwi and a pear. Most of the ones I have had have very little taste at all. The fruit is still very appealing as a treat and if served right it is very attractive too.
How Do You Prepare and Eat Dragon Fruit?
Though dragon fruit looks intimidating it’s really easy to prepare. The easiest way to get at the flesh is to simply cut it in half lengthways. Then scoop it out like you would with an avocado.
In theory, you can peel dragon fruit but in practice, it’s very time-consuming. You’ll either miss some of the flesh or get some of the inedible skin. Once you’ve scooped out all the flesh, you can cut it into cubes and eat it as is. You can also add it to a fruit salad, blend it into smoothies, or even add it to a cocktail.
Not only can you eat this fruit raw but you can grill it on the BBQ as well! To grill it, simply cut it into cubes and put them on a skewer with another grilling fruit like pineapple or peach slices. The taste is best described as tropical with some people saying it has a similar flavor profile to a kiwi. It also has a very nice crunch to it because of the seeds.
Is Dragon Fruit Good For You?
Dragon fruit is a real nutrition powerhouse as well. It is high in vitamins and minerals. It’s very high in vitamin C and magnesium and is a source of iron and vitamin E as well.
This fruit is high in antioxidants, fatty acids and protects your cells from free radicals. It has also been known to strengthen your immune system and lower blood sugar. The fruit is still being studied for its health benefits for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
It’s also a great high fiber food – a cup has 7 grams of fiber! All in all, you might try it because of its odd look and funky name but you’ll want to keep eating dragon fruit because of its great taste and health benefits.
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