Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya or the strawberry pear, is a beautiful tropical fruit that is sweet and crunchy. The plant the fruit comes from is actually a type of cactus of the genus Hylocereus, which includes about 20 different species. Originally popular in Southeast Asia and Latin America, dragon fruit is now grown and enjoyed all over the world. Though it may look intimidating with its pinkish red skin and light green scales, preparing this unusual fruit is easy. You can enjoy eating it in fruit salads, it can be used to create tasty drinks and desserts, and it is a wonderful, healthy snack on its own.
What Is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit was named after its appearance—which is somewhat similar to an artichoke—the pointy “scales” around the oval-shaped fruit are reminiscent of a dragon.
The fruit comes in four varieties; three are pink-skinned, one with white flesh, one with red flesh, and the third with purple flesh. The fourth variety has yellow skin with white flesh. All have tiny black seeds that are edible, just like kiwifruit. Its unique appearance lends to serving as is, but this tropical fruit is also wonderfully blended into cocktails. The fruit is quite simple to prepare—just cut it down the middle and remove the flesh with a spoon. Depending on the variety and where it was grown, dragon fruit can be a bit pricy.
How to Use Dragon Fruit
For the most part, dragon fruit is eaten in its raw form, whether served cut up, blended, or frozen. But it can also be grilled, for example, which can be done on skewers along with another fruit such as pineapple.
As tough as the outer shell may look, dragon fruit is easy to cut. Place the dragon fruit on a cutting board or another clean surface. Cut the fruit straight down the middle with a sharp knife, and separate it into two sections.
Removing the fruit’s flesh is quite simple and similar to serving an avocado. Run a tablespoon around the circumference of each section to separate the flesh from the skin (which is not edible). Using the spoon, lift the flesh out of the skin and place it on the cutting board. Turn over the mound of flesh, checking for any residual pink skin, and cube or slice up the flesh.
What Does It Taste Like?
Dragon fruit has a sweet, delicate taste that could be characterized as “tropical.” It has been described as a cross between kiwi and pear, or kiwi and watermelon. The texture is somewhat creamy with little seeds, similar to that of kiwi fruit.
Dragon Fruit Recipes
Dragon fruit is often enjoyed on its own, either cut up or eaten right out of the skin. (It’s the perfect container for a quick snack—just grab a spoon and dig in.) You can return the cubes of fruit into the skin shell to serve, or simply transfer to a serving dish and enjoy. Or use a melon baller to scoop out the dragon fruit’s flesh for a pretty presentation.
Dragon fruit pairs perfectly with fish dishes, particularly cod, tuna, and mahi-mahi. Serve the fruit on the side or chop finely and place it on top of the fish as a salsa. Dragon fruit works well with almost any tropical fruit, so mix it in with mango, papaya, or pineapple. Dragon fruit’s sweet taste also makes for some delicious drinks as well as frozen desserts.
Ripe dragon fruit can sit on the counter for a few days. To store it longer, place the fruit in a sealed plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. This fruit can pick up the flavors and odors of other food, so wrapping it well is necessary.
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 get mushy, it’s time to toss it.
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Source: The Spruce Eats
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