Cooking with Dragon Fruit Hylocereus sp.

The Florida dragon fruit is a delight! It is mildly sweet, has the texture of a kiwi, and has tiny, edible seeds embedded in flesh of creamy white or shocking pink! Both colors of the pitaya flesh taste very much the same, with usually the white variety sometimes a little more sweet. The fruits have a long shelf life if kept chilled, and we find the flavor is more intense when it is cold.

 

Dragon fruit can be found with either yellow or pink skin. The yellow fruits have white flesh inside, and the pink varieties are either scarlet pink or white inside. Unless it is marked, you will need to ask the grocer what color the flesh is inside, as you cannot tell from the outside on the pink varieties.

Here are a few points below to help you learn more about using Florida dragon fruit.

Selecting Fruit

Ripe, high quality, Florida dragon fruit can be sent directly to your door by contacting one of our growers on our Dragon Fruit age, or by visiting your area Asian market. This fruit is becoming increasingly common and so may already be at your neighborhood grocery store. If dragon fruit isn’t there, ask the produce manager to order some dragon fruit from Florida.

 

If you find dragon fruit in a local market, choose fruit that is nicely filled out, does not have any blemishes or soft spots, no brown tips on the leaves, and has a little give, like a ripe mango.

Ripening

The fruit is picked mature and basically ready to eat. If the fruit is very firm, let it rest for a day or two on the kitchen counter until it has a little give. At that point Florida dragon fruit is ready to eat, or will stay fine another 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. If you let dragon fruit sit too long on the counter, the fruit could turn too soft.

Handling & Preparation

To prepare a dragon fruit is simplicity in itself! Cut the fruit in half with a sharp knife through the middle or from top to bottom, and scoop out the flesh with a spoon or a melon baller. The tiny seeds are edible. You can also cut the fruit into slices, and peel back the skin. The peel is usually not eaten, although it can be pickled.

We like to keep our dragon fruit in the refrigerator, and eat it chilled. Some locals add just a little bit of lime or lemon juice to heighten the flavor. With or without juice, it is SO REFRESHING!!!

Storage

The thick skin of the dragon fruit helps to keep the fruit in good shape for a few days, but it will last longer if refrigerated.  Florida dragon fruit arrives at the market shortly after being harvested and so can last for up to 2-3 weeks in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator. You can also freeze dragon fruit, but the texture will be altered and it will best be used in a sauce or sorbet.

Counts and Weights

Dragon fruits weigh from ½ – 2 lbs. Almost all of that is fruit, as the peel is about 1/8” thick.

Nutrition

Dragon Fruit is low in calories and sugar, and high in Vitamin C.

The typical nutritional values per 100 g (about one 3-4” fruit) of raw pitaya are as follows:

  • Calories: 60

  • Protein .5g

  • Fat 0.1g

  • Carbohydrates 9g

  • Fiber .5g

  • Calcium 6mg

  • Iron .4 mg

  • Phosphorus 19 mg

  • Niacin (Vitamin B3) 0.2 mg

  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) 25 mg

Uses

Dragon fruit is very mild in flavor and is best enjoyed fresh and chilled, right out of the skin. If you plan on mixing the fruit with other stronger, flavored ingredients, choose them wisely so as not to overpower the delicate flavor of the fruit. The mellow flavor and beautiful flesh of both the pink and white varieties make it perfect for adding to salads, fruit pizzas, pastries, beverages, smoothies, sherbets, sorbets, and preserves.

Recipes

Here are a few recipes from the Internet that you may want to try with your Florida dragon fruit:

Dragon Fruit Sorbet

2 dragon fruits

​3/4 c. cold water

1 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp sugar

Cut the dragon fruit in half. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Reserve the halves for serving, if desired. Freeze the halves until you are ready to fill them.

Place the pulp of the dragon fruit in your food processor along with the water, lemon juice and sugar. Pulse until smooth. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until frozen. Spoon the sorbet into the frozen halves, or freeze the sorbet until ready to serve. Makes about 2 cups of sorbet.

www.sugarlaws.com

Dragon Fruit Salad

Salad                          

2 stalks celery, cut length wise

1  green pepper, cut in strips

1 dragon fruit – cut into cubes

Sauce

½ c. Cottage cheese
1 Tbsp. Olive oil

Dijon mustard (optional)

dash of black pepper and salt

DIRECTIONS

Cut the celery, pepper and dragon fruit into small, bite size pieces. Gently combine, and place in serving bowl.

Blend cottage cheese, olive oil, sat, pepper, and mustard into separate bowl, and pour over salad.

Adapted from www.penangfaces.chanlilian.net

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Lemon Dragon Fruit Juice

 

1 Dragon Fruit

1/2 Lemon (or lime)

8 oz. plain or vanilla yogurt

Cut off the skin of Dragon Fruit and cut it into smaller pieces.

Cut the lemon into smaller pieces together with its skin

Put dragon fruit, lemon and yogurt into fruit juice blender

Blend ingredients evenly, and serve.

Adapted from www.healthyjuicerrecipes.com

 

 

Dragon Fruit Shake

1 dragon fruit, peeled

2 tangerines, peeled and segmented

1 lime, juiced

4 leaves fresh basil

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup sparkling mineral water, chilled

1 cup crushed ice

DIRECTIONS

Cut two 1/4 inch thick slices from the peeled dragon fruit to use as a garnish; set aside. Place the remaining dragon fruit into a blender along with the tangerine segments, lime juice, basil, brown sugar, and sparkling water. Puree until smooth. Stir in the crushed ice, and pour into glasses. Garnish with the reserved dragon fruit slices to serve.

www.allrecipes.com

© 2020 by Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida - Photo Credits: Ian Maguire & Shaun Wright