What is Dragon Fruit? Here’s Your Complete Guide

Even if you’ve never eaten dragon fruit, chances are you’ve at least seen the eye-catching fruit pickers in a supermarket or as part of a fruit salad. Hard to miss, this tropical fruit is utterly unique. It is available inside as purple dragon fruit, red dragon fruit or white dragon fruit. Regardless of the flesh color, it is always studded with tiny black seeds (which are also entirely edible) and surrounded by either a bright pink, green studded skin (which should not be eaten) or a yellow dragon fruit skin.

Now that you know how to recognize dragon fruit, let’s dive into dragon fruit benefits in terms of flavor and Nutrition, how to cut a dragon fruit and most important: how to eat dragon fruit. Ahead, is our complete guide to what dragon fruit is good for. You will learn something new whether you have eaten dozens or zero before.

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What is dragon fruit exactly?

Also known as pitaya or strawberry pear, dragon fruit is an oval-shaped, colorful tropical fruit that grows on a cactus family called Hylocereus. Its sweet and creamy yet crunchy flesh can be scooped out of the inedible skin and nibbled as is or incorporated into a variety of dragon fruit recipes. (More on that below.) Dragon fruit is native to Central America, but now mature dragon fruit is grown, harvested, and enjoyed worldwide.

You can probably guess where the “dragon” part of the nickname came from from the pointy scales that appear around the skin. However, the inside of the ripe dragon fruit is beautifully sweet and resembles the flesh of the kiwi in texture.

So how does dragon fruit taste? Something similar to a mashup of a kiwi, a pear, and a watermelon. Translation: Very tasty.

dragon fruit varieties

Keep an eye out for the four main types of dragon fruit.

  • Pink skin with white flesh (Hylocereus undatus): The most common and least cute style can be sold under names like Alice, Cosmic Charlie, David Bowie, Guyute, Harpua, LA Woman, Neitzel, Seoul Kitchen, Thomson and Vietnamese Jaina.
  • Pink Skin with Red or Pink Flesh (Hylocereus polyrhizus): Longer and sweeter than the white flesh variety, this dragon fruit may be found near signs reading Bloody Mary, Red Jaina, Voodoo Child, and Zamorano.
  • Pink skin with violet flesh (Hylocereus guatemalensis): This stunning style is also sold as “American Beauty”.
  • Yellow skin with white flesh (Selenicereus megalanthus): The smallest and cutest of the bunch, these are the hardest to find – but well worth looking for.

When is dragon fruit in season?

June through September is the best time for fresh, ripe dragon fruit, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center. Most cultivars are best found in August and September, although the yellow-skinned, white-fleshed cultivar can occasionally be found during the winter (November to February mainly). It should be light and evenly colored with just a little sagging – just like a fresh peach.

Dragon fruit health benefits

Dragon fruit is a good source of gut-healthy fiber, a solid dose of immune-supporting vitamin C, sleep-inducing magnesium, and one of the few plant-based sources of iron — along with other vitamins, minerals, and a good dose of hydration. (This, like many fruits, is mostly water.)

According to the USDA’s FoodData Central database, a 3½-ounce serving of dragon fruit provides:

  • 60 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 1g protein
  • 13 grams of carbohydrates
  • 3 grams of dietary fiber
  • 8 grams of sugar
  • 3% of your daily vitamin C needs
  • 4% of your daily iron requirement
  • 10% of your daily magnesium requirement

How to cut dragon fruit

Similar to other fruits (see: avocado, apples), dragon fruit is best bought whole and sliced ​​when ready to enjoy. Store on the counter until ready to cut, then place any leftover sliced, ripe dragonfruit in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Once it starts to brown or seems too mushy, compost or throw it away.

When you’re ready to master slicing dragon fruit, it’s actually quite easy. Get a cutting board and a sharp knife. Cut the fruit in half, stem to root, to form two halves. Then trace the inside of the skin with a spoon to snip the flesh out of the inedible skin. Turn the meat half onto the cutting board, look for any skin clinging to it and remove if there is any. Otherwise, dice or slice the pulp to enjoy on its own or use in one of the following dragon fruit recipes. For a unique style of presentation, you can also use a melon corer to create round pieces that you can pop in your mouth or toss in a fruit salad.

How to eat dragon fruit

Now for the funnest part: how to eat dragon fruit! It is most often served raw but can definitely be used in grilled fruit recipes.

Try raw, ripe dragon fruit as part of a:

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