Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya or pitahaya, are native to Costa Rica and the surrounding region. Dragon fruit grows on long, vining cactus plants that cling to trees, fences or walls. Dragon fruit is available in 3 different varieties: yellow, white and red. White dragon fruit is the most common. On the outside, white dragon fruit looks almost identical to the red-fleshed variety having pink skin with prominent, succulent, leafy flaps tipped in green. The thin skin is not edible. On the inside, white dragon fruit looks almost identical to the yellow variety having white flesh that is studded with tiny edible black seeds that add a bit of crunch and texture, similar to a kiwi. The flavor is mild, sweet, refreshing and similar to a mixture of pear and kiwi. White dragon fruit has a reputation for being bland, but it is a refreshing fruit with just enough sweetness you’ll love. It's a nutrient-dense fruit, with dietary fiber, iron, and magnesium.
**Please note: this fruit is heavy. Each piece is typically at least 1 pound each. **
Ripening and Storage:
White dragon fruit is ripe when you press the flesh and it has a little give. Leave unripened dragon fruit on the counter for a few days and touch-test it. Once ripe, the fruit can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. It can also be frozen for up to a year when sealed in a plastic bag. If it is too soft, or has too many dark spots (similar to bruises on an apple) on the skin, that means it is overripe and the texture will not be as good.
Dragon fruit is typically eaten raw, either scooped straight out of the skin or cubed, balled or sliced. Slice the fruit lengthwise or in half and use a spoon to scoop out and eat the pulp and seeds. It is especially delicious when eaten cold so you may want to refrigerate your dragon fruit. You can use a spoon to separate the pulp from the skin by running a spoon along the inside edges of the skin and then scoop underneath to loosen the flesh. When the fruit is ripe is will separate easily from the skin. Once the fruit is separated from the skin you can cut it into slices or cubes. You can also use a knife to peel the fruit and expose the inner flesh.
Fresh dragon fruit can be added to tropical fruit salads or eaten as-is. The pulp can be pureed and added to smoothies, sorbet, desserts, sauce, syrup, and baked goods. The fruit can also be dried and preserved.