Chinese legends say that the dragon fruit was created a thousand years ago from a battle with a dragon who blew a burst of fire containing the fruit. The funky looking spiny neon pink, red or yellow fruit is oval–shaped and weighs about a pound. Inside the fruit, you will find either white or red flesh studded with edible tiny black seeds.
The bright pink dragon fruit tastes light and refreshing with a hint of tang, while the red dragon fruit tastes sweeter like raspberry, but most consumers say dragon fruits taste like a cross between a kiwi, watermelon and pear. Marco’s Donna Kay tasted the fruit for the first time; she commented she likes it better than a kiwi.
The moniker of Dragon is perfect as it looks forbidden, with pointy scales or wings attached to the skin of the fruit. As the name suggests, dragon fruit is a fruit primarily grown in Asia, Mexico, Central and South America. Today, Dragon fruit is grown all over the world including in many Marco Island backyards. It goes by many names including Pitaya, Pitahaya and Strawberry Pear.
The flowers only bloom at night for around 8 hours and are known as Moonflower or Queen of the night with a slight tropical fragrance. Unripe dragon fruit is green and slowly changes color as it ripens.
The most common varieties are: pink skin with white flesh, red with purplish flesh, and yellow with white flesh. All have small black edible seeds just like kiwi.
If you are into exotic fruits as a gardener, you may want to try growing dragon fruits. They thrive in Florida’s subtropical climate and sandy soil. And they also add something different to your landscape. You can trellis it up a rock wall, fence, or up an avocado tree. Or you can ask someone with dragon fruits to give you several cuttings and grow it in a large container.
The dragon fruit cactus flowers don’t self-pollinate in certain cultivars, so plant two or three plants or cuttings with different genetics to assure fruiting. Author’s plant blooms but never had fruits. She is planting a different variety nearby so pollination and fruiting will more likely occur.
How Long Does Dragon Fruit Take to Ripen from The Vine?
Try to remember when you first saw the flower—usually, fruits are ready to be harvested 30-32 days after flowering.
Despite its dramatic exterior, dragon fruit is very easy to eat.
How To Eat Dragon Fruit
Select a ripe fruit with bright evenly colored skin that gives slightly when squeezed.
- Slice fruit in half
- Scoop the flesh out with a spoon
- Eat it as it is
- Cube it into small pieces and add to cereal with other fruits
- Add to yogurt for a nutritious snack
- Toss in a blender with other fruits for a high energy smoothie mix
- Add to a mix of tropical fruit salads
- The outer skin is inedible
When to Pick Your Dragon Fruits
- When ripe, the color of the skin looks bright pink all over.
- The wings are the long leaf outside of the fruit often referred to as spikes or scales. If they are still green or vibrant red or yellow, it needs more time to ripen. When they turn brown, dried out or looks withered, the fruit is ripe.
- Gently press the fruit with your thumb and should yield to light pressure like a ripe avocado or ripe mango.
A perfect Dragon Fruit Smoothie: slices of dragon fruits, mango, pineapple, banana. Keep it vegan by using non-dairy milk such as Oat or Almond Milk. Play up the tropical flavor with a squeeze of fresh lime or sprigs of mint.
Dragon fruits from the supermarket are ready to eat and depending on the variety, the flesh of the fruit should be milky white, deep pink, or purple in color. If you can’t find dragon fruit in the produce aisle, look in the freezer section of your grocery store.