Dare to Discover the Dragon Fruit

A hot pink blowfish? A neon hand grenade? An exotic cactus fruit that gets its name from the green tipped “scales” on its skin, the Dragon Fruit is also known as the Strawberry Pear or Pitaya. Frieda’s is now distributing this elusive exotic fruit to grocery stores around the country for its limited late-summer and fall season.

The Dragon Fruit’s skin is decorated with green-tipped leafy ruffles reminiscent of dragon scales. But don’t be intimidated by the monstrous name or wild appearance. Once you get your hands on a Dragon Fruit, you’ll find that the skin is smooth, pliable and pleasing to the touch and the flesh tender and juicy with a kiwifruit-like texture and tiny black edible seeds.

The flavor of the Dragon Fruit is unique. Slightly sweet, slightly earthy. Overall, the Dragon Fruit tastes pretty mellow, especially compared with its extreme name and appearance. Some might compare the flavor to a red prickly pear fruit.

To eat a Dragon Fruit, simply peel and enjoy alone, scoop out flesh with a spoon, or add to cocktails, dressings, sorbets or blender drinks. Also makes a beautiful garnish. For the perfect funky party drink use unpeeled slices of Dragon Fruit as a garnish on Singapore Slings, or float in Sangria with other colorful fruits.

Chefs rave about the Dragon Fruit, saying its mellow flavor acts as a neutralizer by softening the sharpness of pineapple and onion in chutneys, fruit salsas and sauces. One slice on a small plate can be used as the ultimate cool palate cleanser between courses. Or, chop Dragon Fruit and toss with other fruits such as mango and kiwi to create a vibrant salad.

There are many different varieties of Dragon Fruit, with internal color ranging from white to pink to magenta to yellow. White and magenta-fleshed fruit are the most commonly found varieties in North America. In general, the pink and magenta-flesh fruit are slightly sweeter than their white-fleshed counterparts.

Native to Mexico and Central America, but also cultivated in Southeast Asia and California, the Pitaya is the fruit of the night-blooming cactus Hylocereus undatus. The plant looks a bit like a giant Christmas Cactus with the fruit growing at the tips of the long branches. This cactus is also known for its stunning white flowers, called moonflowers.

You might have heard about this beautiful fruit recently… It’s popping up in trendy fruit drinks, candy flavors, Bacardi rum and even home fragrances. But the Dragon Fruit in its natural form is a sight to behold! Don’t miss the elusive Dragon Fruit! Stop by your local produce department for a taste of the exotic.