Dragon fruit can appear intimidating, lined up with oranges and apples on grocery store shelves! If you've never tried one before, you probably wonder - What is a dragon fruit? Is dragon fruit good for you? What does dragon fruit taste like?
Below, we'll tell you all about dragon fruit's wonderfully sweet, mild flavor and how to choose the ripest one!
What Is A Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruits are cactus species native to Central and South America and many areas of Southeast Asia. It's also often referred to as pitaya or strawberry pear. Dragon fruit has a bright magenta rind covered with green scales that stick out from the fruit when it's ripe.
What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?
So, what does dragon fruit taste like? Different varieties of dragon fruit taste slightly different, but overall, dragon fruit tastes somewhat between a pear and a kiwi fruit. Some will say dragon fruit's flavor is a mixed blend of watermelon and kiwi, and it has a sweet, light, and not overbearing flavor. The flesh of this exotic fruit has a creamy texture and the seeds add a pleasant crunch.
Unripe dragon fruit has a very bland taste, and it does not have the sour or bitter taste that many other fruits are when they're unripe, and it just doesn't have much flavor at all.
What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like Base On Variety
There are many dragon fruit varieties grown worldwide, and each variety of dragon fruit tastes different. Here is what dragon fruit tastes based on variety:
White Dragon Fruit
This variety of dragon fruit you're most likely to see in supermarkets. The white dragon fruit (or white-fleshed pitaya) has pink skin and white flesh spotted with small black seeds.
The white dragon fruit variety has a subtly sweet taste with delicate flavors. Its flavor profile is frequently characterized as a delightful fusion of pear, kiwi, and watermelon. The sweetness is mild rather than overpowering, making it a refreshing choice. The texture of the white dragon fruit is similar to a melon, with a slightly crunchy yet juicy flesh. The tiny black seeds embedded in the fruit add a pleasant textural element.
Pink Dragon Fruit
Pink dragon fruit is the same shade of deep pink all the way through. Because of the beautiful flesh color of its pink flesh, this variety is often used for cocktails and smoothies, where the color can be shown off.
Pink Dragon Fruit has a subtly sweet taste with a milder flavor than other dragon fruit varieties. Often described as a gentle fusion of flavors, Pink Dragon Fruit offers subtle hints of pear, kiwi, and watermelon. Its sweetness is well-balanced, providing a refreshing and delightful choice.
The texture of Pink Dragon Fruit is similar to a melon, with a slightly crunchy yet juicy flesh. When consumed, the fruit is dotted with small black seeds that add a pleasant texture and crunchiness. While Pink Dragon Fruit shares some similarities with other dragon fruit varieties, it has its own distinct taste. Its subtle sweetness and refreshing qualities make it a popular choice for both eating on its own and incorporating into various dishes and beverages.
Red Dragon Fruit
Similar to the pink dragon fruit, the red-fleshed pitaya has a deep color all the way through. However, its skin and flesh are so deep as to be nearly red.
Red flesh dragon fruit has a sweet and slightly tangy taste with a hint of natural acidity. Its flavor profile is often characterized by a delightful combination of kiwi, pear, and raspberry notes. The sweetness is more pronounced than other dragon fruit varieties, giving it a delightful fruity taste. Some people also detect subtle floral notes in the flavor, adding to its complexity.
The texture of Red Dragon Fruit is similar to a melon, with a mildly crunchy yet juicy flesh. It is known for its refreshing quality, making it a popular choice for enjoying on its own or incorporating into various culinary creations.
Yellow Dragon Fruit (Selenicereus Megalanthus)
Yellow dragon fruit is the sweetest variety and has a distinct taste that sets it apart from other dragon fruit varieties! It's grown mostly in Central America and doesn't ship well, so it's not used much in commercial farming. The yellow pitaya has yellow skin and white flesh, and it's the smallest type of dragon fruit.
Yellow Dragon Fruit has a pleasantly sweet and tropical taste. The flavor is typically sweeter compared to other dragon fruit varieties, with a delightful combination of fruity and floral notes.
The texture of Yellow Dragon Fruit is similar to a melon, with a slightly crunchy yet juicy flesh. It is known for its succulence and the presence of tiny black seeds, which add a pleasant textural element. One of the notable aspects of Yellow Dragon Fruit is its vibrant and sunny appearance, which adds to its visual appeal when served or used in various dishes.
Sour Dragon Fruit (Stenocereus)
This unique type of dragon fruit is mostly grown and eaten in America. It looks exactly the same as white dragon fruit (with pink skin and white flesh), but it's sour! It's also much juicier than other types of dragon fruit!
Sour dragon fruit has a pronounced tartness and acidity compared to other dragon fruit varieties. The sourness is more prominent, similar to a citrusy or sour tropical fruit. The sweetness in sour dragon fruit is often less noticeable or even absent, with the tartness taking the forefront.
The texture of sour dragon fruit is similar to other dragon fruit varieties, with a slightly crunchy and juicy flesh. The characteristic black seeds may still be scattered throughout the fruit, contributing to its overall texture.
Due to its tangy and sour flavor, sour dragon fruit is often used in culinary preparations that call for a tangy twist. It can be used in sauces, dressings, or even beverages where its tartness provides a refreshing and zesty element.
It's worth noting that sour dragon fruit may not be as widely available or as commonly consumed as other varieties, and taste preferences for its sourness can vary. If you come across sour dragon fruit, it's best to try it for yourself to experience and assess its unique flavor fully.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit's tender flesh has many nutrients that will benefit you! Let's dive into dragon fruit benefits:
Dragon fruit is high in vitamin C and has a decent amount of vitamin B. These vitamins will boost the immune system and support your metabolism.
The antioxidants in dragon fruit help your body to fight off the free radicals that lead to chronic health conditions.
Dragon fruit has an abundance of magnesium, which is needed for your nervous system to function properly! It also contains iron, niacin, and calcium.
Most of the fiber found in dragon fruits is located in the seeds. However, since you can't very well separate the hundreds of tiny seeds from the rest of the flesh, you'll enjoy the digestive benefits of fiber as well!
How Can You Tell A Dragon Fruit Is Ready To Eat?
Typically, dragon fruit is picked, packaged, and shipped before it's fully ripe. Ripe dragon fruit is likely to bruise or spoil in transit, so unripe dragon fruit is preferred for shipping. They'll typically ripen around the time they reach the grocery store, but because no two fruits ripen at the same speed, you'll need to be able to judge whether a dragon fruit is still unripe, ripe, and perfect for eating or is past its prime!
Start by feeling the dragon fruit's weight in your hand. When dragon fruit is ripe, it will feel heavier than the unripe ones because the flesh inside will be filled with more juice. It will also give a little when you squeeze it, like a ripe avocado. If the fruit is somewhat light and has notably firm skin, it's not ready to eat yet!
How To Prepare Dragon Fruit
Once you've selected a ripe dragon fruit, wash it and cut it in half with a sharp knife. You can then cut the halves into tiny slices, leaving the skin in place. Think of it like small watermelon slices!
You can also use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of the skin. Add cut dragon fruit to a fruit salad, or toss them into a smoothie! Use a melon baller to make a colorful ball of dragon fruit to add to a salad.
Cut dragon fruit can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge's crisper drawer for about a week.
Ways To Eat Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit can be eaten in several ways, including:
There is nothing wrong with eating dragon fruit on its own. Cut the fruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
Add To Smoothie
Blend the flesh with other ingredients like banana, yogurt, and honey to make a delicious dragon fruit smoothie.
Add To Salad
Cut the fruit into cubes and add it to a fruit salad or greens salad.
Use As Topping
Use diced dragon fruit as a topping for oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream.
Add Into Salsa
For a fun twist on a classic salsa, blend dragon fruit with onion, tomato, and cilantro and make a flavorful salsa.
Blend the flesh with other fruits and vegetables to make a refreshing juice. Make a hydrating beverage and blend dragon fruit with coconut water.
Mix the flesh with coconut cream to make a sweet dessert. You can also cube the dragon fruit and freeze it for a healthy and refreshing dessert to enjoy on hot summer days.