I think it’s time to proclaim 2014 as “The Year of the Dragon Fruit.”
It’s been 20 years since we first introduced Pitaya (also known as “Pitahaya”). Yes, that’s what Dragon Fruit was called 20 years ago, and we sold the first fruit.
Dragon Fruit is native to Mexico and is the fruit of several types of cactus (Hylocereus is the official genus). I have visited Dragon Fruit plantings, most recently in Israel earlier this year. They are beautiful and green. When the fruit is in season, the bright-colored fruits are picture-perfect. Unlike most other plants, these cacti flower at night. When the heat is just right, the plants can go from flowering to being filled with ripe fruit within 24 hours!
Two main types of Dragon Fruit are available in the U.S.—white-fleshed and red-fleshed. For much of the year, the white-fleshed fruit comes from Vietnam. We bring it both by boat and by air. When the U.S. season starts, we have fruit from California, Texas, and Florida; because Dragon Fruit are subtropical, they naturally grow in warm states. You can read more here about the three main types of Dragon Fruit.
The red-fleshed fruit is rarer. We have a few growers here in California and in Florida. This season we are bringing in the red-fleshed Dragon Fruit from Nicaragua.
The great news is that both the white-fleshed and red-fleshed fruit are available right now. I predict you will start to see a large display in your supermarket very soon. If you shop in an Asian market (like our local Ranch 99 Markets in Southern California), you may see a HUGE display in the produce department.
What do Dragon Fruit taste like? To me, they have the texture and flavor of a mild Kiwifruit. Nutritionally, they are rich in antioxidants and in vitamin C. They also supply fiber.
In addition to that wonderful flavor and those nutritional benefits, Dragon Fruit is very eye-catching! So, next time you’re making a summer fruit platter, add a little pizzazz by slicing up some Dragon Fruit.