Dragon Fruits grow on vining cacti with stems that reach up to six meters long, climbing over trees and structures with aerial roots. Depending on variety, Dragon fruits can vary in shape, size and color. They are typically oval to oblong and average 10 centimeters in length. Their pink to magenta exterior has scale-like succulent leaves that are tipped in green, giving them the appearance of an exotic oriental lantern. The inner flesh ranges from white to deep pink or purple and is dotted with tiny black seeds. The spongy pulp has a juicy yet firm texture like the cross between a melon and a pear. The flavor is subtly sweet with notes of star fruit, kiwi, melon and just a hint of salinity and a thirst quenching finish.
Dragon Fruit is available sporadically throughout the year.
Dragon Fruits are also known as Pitaya or Pitahaya and are relatives of the cactus in the cactaceae family. They are a spiny vining plant that only blooms at night, relying on moths to pollinate their ornate and stunning flowers. Botanically speaking, they are quite interesting because they exist in two separate genera; Hylocereus and Selenicereus. While there are many varieties and hybrids of Dragon Fruit, the three most commonly grown are H. guatemalensis, H. polyrhizus, and H. undatus. Selenicereus megalanthus is grown commercially on smaller scales in South America and is especially popular in Colombia.
Dragon Fruits have a very rich water content and also supply potassium. The red fleshed varieties contain lycopene which is a natural antioxidant known to fight cancer, heart disease, and lower blood pressure.
Dragon Fruit’s mild flavored flesh is best enjoyed raw with a slight chill. The soft yet firm texture will hold its shape nicely when cut. Dice and add to fruit salads or desserts with other tropical fruits such as papaya, coconut, mango, passionfruit, guava or kiwi. Juice and combine with fresh fruit cocktails, leaving the seeds intact for a unique appearance and texture. Combine pureed Dragon Fruit flesh with a touch of sweetener and freeze into sorbets and sherbets. For the sweetest flavor, harvest only those Dragon Fruits with the reddest skin and spikes that have begun to wither slightly.