The dragonfruit is an exotic fruit that's commonly grown in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and other countries with a warm climate. It is a remarkable looking specimen, bursting with color and mystique. Looking at its scale-like skin, it is easy to see how it earned its name.
If you’ve seen them at your local supermarket or on a restaurant menu, you may want to know – what does a dragonfruit taste like? Can you expect a delicious mix of exotic flavor that takes you to a sunny beach in Thailand? It's time to take a look at the dragonfruit's taste and texture as well as its culinary uses.
Describing the flavor of dragonfruit
The dragonfruit has a delicate, mildly sweet taste, which is similar to an unripened pear. Its texture is firm, creamy, juicy, and somewhat crisp to the bite. Unlike many other tropical fruits, the dragonfruit has very little or no aroma.
Prefer to sit back and listen?
You'll notice a chia-like crunch thanks to a flesh that contains many tiny seeds. It is perfectly okay to eat the seeds in the same way that you would eat a kiwi. The skin is inedible and should be removed before consumption. Thankfully, it is easy to separate the skin and discard it.
Editor’s opinion: Everyone has a different palate, so the foods you enjoy will differ from what we appreciate. In saying that, the dragonfruit’s flavor was disappointing. It is such an amazing looking fruit, which tends to raise your expectations. After taking a bite, you wait for the explosion of flavor, and it never arrives.
Based on tastes alone, you’re better to save some money and buy pears instead. However, the dragonfruit brings more to the table than just flavor; we’ll look at its benefits further down the page.
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Comparing the different dragonfruit varieties
The dragonfruit has a range of varieties that impact the fruit’s flavor and appearance.
1. Pitaya blanca or white-fleshed pitaya
Botanical name: Hylocereus undatus
Red skin / white flesh
The pitaya blanca is the most common type found in stores and markets. It is most likely you’ll be eating this option. The skin is pink with splashes of green in the form of sprouting leaves. The flesh is a brilliant white, making the seeds stand out. Of all the varieties, unfortunately, this is the blandest and least inspirational in flavor.
2. Pitaya roja or red-fleshed pitaya
Botanical name: Hylocereus costaricensis
Red skin / red flesh
A pitaya roja looks similar to a blanca on the outside. Once sliced open, its lovely crimson red or magenta insides are revealed. The flavor of a roja is considered better eating than the white version. It has a more complex flavor profile with the addition of some acidity.
Tip: The juice from a red dragonfruit will stain clothes and skin, a lot like beetroot.
3. Pitaya amarilla or yellow pitaya
Botanical name: Hylocereus megalanthus
Yellow skin / white flesh
The yellow dragonfruit is scarcer, so if you see them at a market, get them if you can! This variety is covered in threatening spiky thorns, making it look a lot like a traditional cactus. Removing these spikes before selling them in-store must be time-consuming; this is the reason why they aren’t as widely available. This fruit is widely considered the best eating cultivar as it has more flavor, is sweeter, and has a lovely scent.
Why would you buy a dragonfruit?
1. Fruit to skin ratio
Some fruit and vegetables have a lot of skin, membrane, leaves, and stalks that can’t be eaten. Not so for the dragonfruit. The skin is thin, and no large seeds are waiting inside, unlike the kiwana, noni, or soursop, to name a few.
2. Easy to prepare
There are no special techniques required to slice up a dragonfruit. Simply chop it in half lengthways with a sharp knife and then scoop the flesh.
The insides can easily be removed, leaving nothing wasted. You can also peel the skin off like a banana.
Dragonfruits would have to be one of the best-looking fruits on offer. Their vibrant contrasting colors make them a lovely table centerpiece. Instead of tossing out the skins, use them as mini dishes, filled with sorbet, ice cream, or even savory food.
4. Health benefits
Dragonfruit contains 2.9g of fiber, which is 11% of your recommended daily intake. It is also high in calcium, vitamin A and magnesium. A 3 ½ ounce serving of dragonfruit only contains 60 calories, ideal for those looking to reduce their intake of calories.
Selection and storage
Select a dragonfruit that is firm, but has a little give when you squeeze it. If it is extremely hard, let it ripen for 2-3 days before eating. Look for vibrant, bright skin that is free from brown spots or shriveled stems.
Once you get the fruit home, it can be stored in the fruit bowl for 2-3 days easily. This is the best option if you intend eating them in the short-term. To store for 2-3 weeks, place them in a sealed bag in the fridge’s vegetable crisper.
Uses in the kitchen
- Eat on its own by slicing the fruit in half and scooping out the flesh with a spoon. Sprinkle with some chili or black pepper to help bring out the flavors.
- Chop the fruit into cubes and add to a fruit salad with kiwiberries, melon, rambutan, and pineapple.
- Add to smoothies or make dragonfruit juice for a nutritional beverage.
- Process into sorbet or ice cream for a sweet treat.
- Use for making jelly, jam, preserves, and chutney.
- Add the flesh to cakes and muffins for a subtle hint of tropical flavor.
- Dragonfruit comes from a type of cactus known as the Hylocereus genus.
- It is also known as a strawberry pear, pitaya, pitya, or pitahaya.
- The fruit requires pollination at night time as they usually wither during the day.
- Honey, cucumber juice, and dragonfruit can be combined to soothe sunburn.
Are you undecided on whether to try dragonfruit for the first time? This is a fruit that is worth trying once, just to say you’ve tried it. The flavor is unlikely to shock or disgust you as it is very bland.
The fruit is excellent for adding some flair to a fruit salad. The skin’s appearance also adds a fun element to any dish; use it for serving part of the meal in, and you’re bound to get some approving nods from your guests.
From the nutritional perspective, dragonfruit has some goodness contained in its flesh. However, there is also a lot of hype surrounding the benefits of this ingredient. You can get similar nutrition from an apple, orange, or carrot. For most of us, the price of dragonfruit is high, so if you’re on a diet, maybe stick to the more common fruits in your area. They taste just as good and won’t put a dent in your weekly shopping budget.
Have you ever tried a dragonfruit? Let us know what you think of them in the comments below.