All About Dragon Fruit – When is Dragon Fruit Ripe or Ready to Eat? How do I Cut Dragon Fruit?

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all about dragon fruit

Do you have questions about dragon fruit; what they are, how to know if a dragon fruit is ripe, how to cut it?  If you do, then we are here to help.

If you are not familiar with dragon fruit, they can appear intimidating. Their bright pink or yellow, green-tipped scales make them look more like an egg from a sci-fi movie than a fruit. Don’t judge the book by its cover. Dragon fruit is delicious and loaded with nutrition.

This article will tell you all about dragon fruit and arm you with the knowledge you need to start enjoying these delectable fruits.

What is Dragon Fruit?

red and white dragon fruit slices

Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit, but unlike most, they don’t grow on trees, bushes, or vines. Dragon fruit is a cactus fruit. They come to us from Latin America and Southeast Asia, where they grow on several varieties of night-blooming cacti in the Hylocereus genus.

Now grown worldwide, dragon fruit, sometimes called pitaya or the strawberry pear, has quickly become popular in Western Countries due to its exceedingly high nutritional levels, sweet taste, and low-calorie content.

Hailed as a superfood, a one-cup (227 gram) serving of dragon fruit contains:

  • Calories: 136
  • Carbohydrates: 29 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 7 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Iron: 8% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 9% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 4% of the RDI

Beyond this, dragon fruit is rich in carotenoids, betacyanins, and polyphenols.

Dragon fruit has a scaley outer shell made up of interlocking bright pink or yellow plates with green tips that look much like rising flames. Their meat is white, pink, or purple, with pink and purple-fleshed varieties generally growing larger and being sweeter.

All dragon fruits are seedy, but the seeds are edible and hardly noticeable. The most common way of consuming dragon fruit is to eat it raw alone or in fruit salads, but people also grill them, add them to cocktails and smoothies and use them in ice cream.  

How Do You Know When a Dragon Fruit is Ripe?

ripe dragon fruits

The easiest way to determine if a dragon fruit is ripe is by simply looking at it. Ripe dragon fruit will have an even yellow or red color. The colors should be bold and bright, with possibly a few dark splotches.

If there are too many dark spots or they are soft like bruises on an apple, the fruit is overripe. Immature dragon fruits are green.

Another area that you can look at is the wings of the dragon fruit. The wings are the tips of the plates that curl outward from the fruit.

When the wings begin to dry and turn brown, the dragon fruit is ready to eat. If they are still soft, flexible, and fully colored, the fruit needs more time to mature.

What Color is Dragon Fruit When Ripe?

dragon fruit served on a plate

The color of ripe dragon fruit depends on the specific type you are looking at. Dragon fruits come from approximately 20 different kinds of cactus. The majority of them are bright pink to purple, but yellow varieties also exist.

Fully ripened dragon fruit will have relatively even colored plates with wings that are beginning to turn brown. There may be some dark spots starting to appear but not too many, and they shouldn’t be soft.

What Does a Ripe Dragon Fruit Taste Like?

Many people have a hard time describing the flavor of dragon fruit. It is sweet and tropical, and at the same time, there is a floral element to the taste. Some describe it as a cross between a kiwi and a watermelon. Others believe the flavor has more of a pears bite than melon sweetness.

Personal taste, growing conditions, and the variety of dragon fruit likely account for the difference in opinions. Regardless, dragon fruit is sweet and has a creamy texture that melts in the mouth.

What Can I Do with Ripe Dragon Fruit?

Ripe dragon fruits are nutritious, delicious, and much more versatile than most people realize. Just a few suggestions of ways you can use dragon fruit include:

  • Cocktails
  • Fillings in baked goods
  • Fruit salads
  • Grilling
  • Ice cream and sorbets
  • Parfaits
  • Popsicles
  • Salsa
  • Smoothies

How Do I Cut Dragon Fruit?

dragon fruit garnish

Cutting dragon fruit is easy. Though they look intimidating, they slice fairly easily.

To eat fresh or use in cooking, simply split the fruit from end to end–top of the egg to the bottom. You can then dip out the tender flesh with a spoon.

For grilling or as a garnish, it is best to cut the fruit into half-inch slices. Most people use a pair of scissors or kitchen shears to remove the wings first, but it is not mandatory.  

However, you slice your dragon fruit, be sure to use a well-sharpened knife and holed the fruit firmly to avoid mishaps.

Which Dragon Fruit is Red Inside?

red fleshed dragon fruit

Red fleshed dragon fruits are from Hylocereus Polyrhizus cacti. These are just one branch of the Hylocereus genus in the family Cactaceae that bear dragon fruits. Other members of the genus have fruits with white or pink pulp.

Red fleshed dragon fruits are considered slightly healthier than other examples due to having higher antioxidant content.

Can You Eat Raw Dragon Fruit?

Yes, you can eat dragon fruit raw. For many, it is the preferred method of eating them. The meat is soft and creamy with just a touch of texture and is sweet and fruity. It separates from husk easily, and you can dip it from the shell, like eating ice cream from a bowl.

Dragon fruit is also excellent raw in smoothies, fruit salads, or dragon balls on a fruit platter.