Dragon fruit: What is it and what does it taste like? | #24CarrotDiet | tropical fruits | exotic fruits | pitaya cactus | dragon fruit benefits

Try Something New Today: What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?

Have you tried dragon fruit yet? You may have heard that this ugly tropical fruit is bland. Dr. Oz calls it the “cauliflower of fruit,” while Rachel Ray says dragon fruit is like an “anemic kiwi.” Not exactly glowing endorsements of the flavour!

Between it being ugly and unfamiliar, and these less than enthusiastic descriptions of the dragon fruit’s taste, you may be hesitant to buy one and try it yourself. I know I avoided it for a long time because I figured there wasn’t any point in paying a premium price for an exotic fruit that had basically no taste.

Dragon Fruit: Discover The Subtle Taste of This Ugly Fruit | #24CarrotDiet | tropical fruit | exotic fruit
Have you heard that dragon fruit tastes bland?

What is Dragon Fruit?

So what exactly is a dragon fruit? The name initially made me think it was an Asian fruit. And indeed, it does now grow in some parts of Southeast Asia. The name is a translation of the Chinese “fire dragon fruit.”

Also known as pitaya or pitahaya, the fruit is actually from Mexico originally. And it’s not just one fruit, but the fruit of several flowering cacti in the genus Hylocereus.

What Does Dragon Fruit Look Like?

Hylocereus undatus is the dragon fruit pictured above. It’s the one that has a pink, scaly skin and white pulp studded with tiny black seeds. This is the variety my kids and I tasted, and the one that’s probably the easiest to find in your grocery store.

In Mexico, it’s sometimes called Reina de la noche. One of its folk names in English is Belle of the Night. This alludes to the fact that the flowers of the pitaya cactus bloom at night. For this reason, the cactus relies on nocturnal pollinators such as bats.

Besides this more common fruit, there are two other main types: the yellow-skinned variety, and the dragon fruit varieties whose pulp is red, purple, or pink. Yellow dragon fruit is known for standing up better to transport. The darker-fleshed varieties tend to be sweeter tasting, and provide larger quantities of antioxidants.

What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?

Dragon fruit does have a reputation for being bland. Admittedly, it isn’t a fruit with a bold flavour. It isn’t completely without a taste, though. It’s just subtle.

Some people say it tastes a little like a milder version of the kiwi fruit. And its texture certainly does remind me of a kiwi. Both fruits have those crunchy little seeds embedded in the juicy flesh. So if you closed your eyes as you put a spoonful of dragon fruit into your mouth, you might think you were eating some kind of kiwi.

But to me, it more closely resembles an Asian pear. I think it’s both the taste of the pulp, and the fact that the fruit feels more starchy in my mouth. That slight stickiness really made me think more of an Asian pear than a kiwi. Others have mentioned dragon fruit tastes like a pear to them too.

The darker-fleshed dragon fruit varieties are supposed to have a stronger flavour to them. They are also said to be sweeter. So if you’re after a more robust flavour, try to find Hylocereus costaricensis.


The video is long, but it shows many different varieties & discusses their taste


Dragon Fruit Nutrition

According to Healthline, dragon fruit counts as a nutrient dense fruit. It’s low cal and low in fats. It’s also rich in both fiber and vitamin C. In fact, calorie for calorie, dragon fruit provides more of both of these nutrients than an orange.

While some fruits are not suitable for a low carb or ketogenic diet, dragon fruit is low enough in carbohydrates to be safe. A 100 gram portion supplies 11 grams of carbs, but one dragon fruit is a little more than half that in weight. So figure about 6-7 grams of carbs per fruit. Dragon fruit smoothies are very popular right now with folks who eat low carb.

You might not expect a fruit to supply a significant amount of iron, but 100 grams of dragon fruit provides more than 10% of your day’s iron. The fruit also provides moderate amounts of B vitamins, and several antioxidants. Flavonoids promote both neurological and heart health. Hydroxycinnamates fight cancer. And betalains (the same antioxidant pigment found in beets) help to protect certain types of fatty acids from oxidation damage. This can contribute to healthy levels of LDL cholesterol, among other things.

So for a fruit that many people find boring, this ugly tropical fruit packs a decent nutritional punch!



Buying & Storing Your Fruit

The pitaya cactus bears fruit for about five months of the year. Harvest times obviously depend on where your fruit is coming from, as there are seasonal differences from one place to another.

In the US, the season starts in late summer. But these days, you may be able to find dragon fruit all year round. We found ours in late February.

Buy fruit that has a uniform pink skin and healthy looking green scales. If the scales are yellow or brown, the fruit probably isn’t very fresh. The fruit should be firm, with a slight give. Avoid fruits that are overly hard, or that have pitted skins or blemishes.

To be honest, our dragon fruit didn’t stick around long enough for us to worry about storage. But in theory, this is a tropical fruit that prefers to be kept cooler than room temperature. The ideal temperature is warmer than the fridge, and just slightly warmer than even a wine fridge. It’s a little like storing tomatoes.



Counter or Fridge?

So, basically, store on your counter for up to a few days. For longer storage, you’ll need a cool space. If you have a cold room or a cool attic, that might be the best place to store dragon fruit long term. The fridge should be your last resort because it’s colder than the fruit really wants to be.

Being a relatively soft-skinned fruit, dragon fruit needs a little protection if you store it in the fridge with other foods. Otherwise, it will end up taking on the flavours of other foods – possibly your stinky cheeses or last night’s leftover garlic pasta! Put your pitaya fruit in a paper bag and store it in the vegetable crisper, if you must refrigerate it.

Some people suggest using a plastic bag, but I’m not terribly keen on storing fresh fruit in plastic if I can avoid it. Also, those who advocate plastic say it will last a few days. On the other hand, Jenny Harrington of LEAF TV says in paper, dragon fruit will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months. If you haven’t gobbled it up before then!

As with any fresh produce, don’t wash or cut dragon fruit before you store it. The fruit should be stored dry and whole. If you only use half a pitaya fruit or you have leftover pulp, store it in an airtight container and use it within a day or two.


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Dragon fruit: What is it and what does it taste like? | #24CarrotDiet | tropical fruits | exotic fruits | pitaya cactus | dragon fruit benefits
Dragon fruit is a mildly refreshing fruit. Give it a try!
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Original content © 2018 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
Public domain images by Pixabay users HelgaKa, ponce_photography, 
Dragon fruit photo by Roei Tabak/Wikimedia used under a Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license

This article was published on my food blog, 24 Carrot Diet. If you are reading this content anywhere else, it has probably been stolen. Please report it to me so I can address any copyright infringements. Thank you!

Dragon Fruit: Discover The Subtle Taste of This Ugly Fruit
Article Name
Dragon Fruit: Discover The Subtle Taste of This Ugly Fruit
Dragon fruit is an ugly fruit, and some people say it tastes pretty much like nothing. But there is a really brilliant array of gorgeous colours to the dragon fruit flesh. And depending on the variety, it can actually be fairly sweet.
Kyla Matton Osborne
24 Carrot Diet
24 Carrot Diet
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28 thoughts on “Try Something New Today: What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?”

  1. I’ve seen this in the store before and on cooking shows but I’ve never really thought of trying it just because it looks so intimidating. I may have to pick one up next time I spot one at the store.

    1. Really, it’s so easy to eat dragon fruit Luna! Just slice it in half and eat it with a spoon. If you want to eat it to recipes, you can scoop out the pulp or cut it in half and then treat it the same way you would a mango. That will leave you with lots of little cubes you can toss into the blender for a dragon fruit smoothie, or for a fruit salad, or anything else you can think of 🙂

  2. Looks good to me! I love how colorful it is. I know my husband buys them every once in a while. He thinks he is so fancy slicing them up. I know its not a common fruit, but i’ve read it has several health benefits

    1. I would love to see photos of those cupcakes, Indya! For a stronger flavour, try to find the dragon fruit with the dark purple pulp. It’s supposed to have the most pronounced taste 🙂

  3. Such a pretty looking fruit, I actually have not tried one. After reading this, and learning what to look for when purchasing, I just might give it a try! Love the low carb and high vitamin c content, thanks for all this super information!

  4. Fun. I think the dragon fruit looks fancy! To fancy to store in my attic. 😉 lol. I’m excited to try some now. Thanks so much for all of your tips. Now I know to look for the darker ones for more flavour. And I now know they make a great low carb smoothie. Yumm!

    1. If you find the dark-fleshed dragon fruit, let me know how they were labelled in the store. I haven’t seen them here, so I don’t know if the grocers just note that it’s the pink-fleshed ones, kind of like they do with pink grapefruit. It wouldn’t be so easy to tell just by looking at the outside of the fruit…

  5. I do not think I have ever seen this fruit here in Barbados but I really would love to give it a try. It does look quite alluring even though it is considered to be bland. I also love the nutrition benefits that you outlined. Hopefully one day I will get to try it. Your posts are always so well researched and educational 🙂
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    1. Hmmm, I’m not sure if pitaya is grown in Barbados…. It’s native to Mexico and Central America, but it’s been naturalized to parts of Asia and Oceania. I think they might be able to grow in the West Indies. It would certainly be interesting to look into!

    1. I think dragon fruit looks very pretty when cut. But it’s the contrast between the white pulp and the bright pink skin that really makes it look appealing! You have to cut into the fruit to find the hidden treasure, so to speak 🙂

  6. Dragon fruit is sooo good! I couldn’t stop eating them in Vietnam. There are huge fields of them growing there. I prefer the one with pinky inside, because it has more flavor in my opinion.

    1. I just tried it for the first time about a month ago. I definitely want to have dragon fruit again, and to try different ways to use it in recipes. I promise to post more here as I have new ideas to share 🙂

    1. It is really exotic, especially when you cut the fruit open. I agree that it’s very juicy and refreshing. I really love a light-tasting fruit that has that crunch at the same time that it feels cool in my mouth. I find it very energizing.

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