I first discovered dragon fruit when I visited Hong Kong back in 2009. Since then I have eaten it many times and have also had the experience of setting up a dragon fruit farm in partnership with some friends in the Phillippines. So the first question that you may ask yourself is How Best To Eat Dragon Fruit?
The best way to eat dragon fruit is to cut it open and scoop out the raw flesh with a spoon. It will be full of tiny seeds which are edible along with the flesh which is often a soft texture with a mild flavour. Dragon fruit can also be consumed in smoothies, sorbets and even grilled.
If you are not living in an Asian country then you often can find the Dragon Fruit in a local supermarket or Asian store. However, they tend to be a little bit expensive as they are often imported. When back in my home country I have found the fruit in our local supermarket although it’s a seasonal fruit that’s imported from Vietnam and so only available certain times of the year.
Whatever you do, don’t try to remove the seeds before eating it. The flesh literally has hundreds if not thousands of tiny seeds and its pretty much impossible to remove them all. They don’t detract from the flavour or taste in any way, so enjoy the added fatty acids that they provide.
A very healthy way to eat dragon fruit is to make a smoothie by adding a banana along with coconut water. Blend them all together until a liquid and drink right away. Not only is this one of the best ways to eat dragon fruit, the banana will add a little more sweetness to an otherwise bland (in flavour) fruit.
Best Ways To Eat Dragon Fruit
I prefer the raw and smoothie methods but was interested to note that they can be grilled. Simply cut the Dragon fruit into cubes and place on skewers then put these skewers onto a grill and lightly cook, turning over when done so both sides are evenly roasted. Sprinkle with a little sugar and eat.
What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?
The texture of dragon fruit is much like a ripe kiwifruit. However, the taste is not a very strong or sweet taste. Don’t get me wrong, its certainly not bitter or sour, but as far as sweetness goes there are many other fruits that are a lot more sweeter than dragon fruit.
If I was to use one word to describe the taste of dragon fruit I would use ‘mild’. The taste is certainly pleasant but not overpowering or strong. Being more neutral it makes a great additive to other fruit cocktails or smoothie combinations.
The taste of dragon fruit is sweet but not intensely sweet with a crunchy texture due to all of the seeds.
You can make dragon fruit taste better by adding other fruits such as kiwi fruit, berries and banana to a blender along with coconut water or almond milk and blending. The resulting smoothie is a pleasant and refreshing drink that packs a lot of nutrition and health benefits.
What Part Of The Dragon Fruit is Edible?
All of the dragon fruit is edible except the skin. The flesh and seeds are not only edible but also very beneficial for your health. The flesh is soft and depending on the variety can be a white to a deep red in colour.
The skin is very leathery and should not be consumed. If you did try to eat the skin it would have a very bitter taste and would be similar to trying to eat an old belt. Its indigestible and due to the pesticides and insecticides used would probably be poisonous to consume. In our experience, you need to spray the cactus with a fungicide to prevent the fungus from literally killing the plant.
How To Cut Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit can be sliced open the same way you would slice an avocado down the middle. The two halves can then be scooped to obtain the flesh, much like you would scoop the flesh of an avocado.
You would need to ensure the dragon fruit was ripe before you cut it open. The best way is to gently press the skin. If it gives a little then its probably ripe and ready to eat. If its hard then you will need to leave it for a few more days to ripen and soften.
I mentioned that earlier that I had partnerships in setting up a Dragon fruit farm. One of the reasons we went into setting up this farm was the demand due to its medicinal qualities and higher price. They are a fruit that can be harvested twice a year and being of the cactus family are very hardy and stand up well to the hotter dryer conditions.
Although don’t let that fool you. They are prone to fungus and disease which can literally decimate a whole crop if you are inexperienced, as we found out when we first planted cuttings that were infected.
Why Is Dragon Fruit So Expensive?
Dragon fruit is expensive because most, if not all, are imported from other countries such as Vietnam. Because demand is not high, there are very few local farmers willing to try growing the exotic fruit.
Because growing knowledge is limited it’s a risk or gamble for any new farmer to start growing a new crop with no experience.
We started a Dragon fruit farm with no experience and soon found out that its not as easy as you might think. We thought a cactus is hardy and needs little attention, but we were very wrong. Too much direct sun and they get sun burnt. If the soil does not drain very well they get water logged and then mould and fungus grow.
Its certainly not an easy fruit to grow unless you know exactly what you are doing. So because of these reasons it tends to be expensive in local supermarkets. Where I come from you can pick up a Dragon Fruit for around $6 a piece.
Where Did Dragon Fruit Get Its Name?
It looks nothing like a dragon so why are these fruits commonly known as “dragon fruit”? This is a name used since 1963, due to the scaly spikes and leather-like skin on the exterior of the fruit.
Its also known by the names pitahaya and pitaya which are derived from Mexico, and pitaya roja in Central America, relating to names of cacti species that have flowering fruit.
Dragon Fruit Origin?
So where does dragon fruit come from? Dragonfruit is native to Central America and according to ancient Aztec writings, Pitahaya fruits actually date back to the 13th century.
It is very extensively grown In Vietnam, where it is known as Pitaya fruit or thang loy. It is commonly believed that the dragon fruit was introduced to Vietnam by the French. The Vietnamese have become very good at growing this fruit and have developed some very productive minature pot plant styles of growing these fruits, yielding very high crops.
They can be grown from both cuttings and seeds. Growing from cuttings is the fastest way to getting crops as they can mature and begin fruiting within 6 to 12 months. However growing from seeds can take anywhere from 2 years to 6 years to bear fruit.
How Many Varieties of Pitaya Fruit Are There?
There are around 9 species with skin ranging in colour from red and yellow and flesh or pulp ranging in colour from white and red.
From these species there are about 24 or more named varieties, some requiring cross-pollination and others not. They range in taste from semi-sweet to sweet flavour.
You can grow a dragon fruit in a pot plant at home but you need to ensure you don’t over water it and that the outside temperatures are warm enough.
Some Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
It has a number of minerals and vitamins, namely Vitamin C, Iron and Magnesium. However its real benefits are in the antioxidants and fibre that help promote good gut bacteria thus reducing inflammation and may improve insulin resistance.
So in conclusion Dragon Fruit, like all fruits is definitely good for you and can be eaten in a variety of ways, but the best way is to eat it raw or as a smoothie. Its taste generally is semi sweet and very bland or mild, and has a crunch due to the edible seeds, but don’t eat the skin.
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