Dragon fuit is a fruit that grows on several species of cactus that are native to Mexico, Central, and South America. There are several varieties of different colors.
The fruits are unusual in appearance, but the colors are quite attractive. With a delicate, sweet taste and a creamy textured pulp, they are sometimes called “strawberry pear.”
In Mexico they are called pitya, pitachayaor pitajaya.
They are widely cultivated and eaten throughout Asia, as well, being especially popular in Malaysia and Vietnam.
The edible, mushy, pulp of the dragon fruit, which makes up 60 to 70% of the total fruit, is said by many people like kiwi, a characterization that is common to most descriptions.
Some people say that the taste is melon-like, and reminds them of a cross between a kiwi and a watermelon. Others include pear in this description. Sometimes, the taste is described simply as tropical. Keep in mind that each person may experience the flavor of dragon fruit a bit differently, and texture has a lot to do with this perception.
The most common type of dragon fruit is the red pitaya. Other varieties include the yellow pataya and the Costa Rica pataya. The fruit has a spiny skin that makes them look somewhat like small pineapples. The flesh is white, pale yellow, or red to crimson red, depending on the cultivar, with numerous tiny black seeds. The seeds are easy to eat and digestible, so all the flesh can be eaten comfortably. Dragon fruit is a lush, refreshing, and, to most people, quite delicious fruit.
The fruits are most commonly eaten raw as a fresh fruit. When cut in half to show the fresh pulp, the fruit is very attractive, and goes great in fruit salad. Dragon fruits are also dried, made into jams, canned or jarred. Juice is also extracted, and an alcoholic beverage is sometimes made from it.
Dragon fruits can be used for many other things, including sherberts, ice creams, yogurt, and candies. Such commercial processing, at this time, is done mainly on a small scale. This nutritious fruit is underutilized, and is rich in nutrients. Although it is not proper to think of any one food as a superfood, dragon fruit is emerging as an important crop, which may well be used much more widely in the future. They are increasingly being marketed in the United States.
Dragon fruit grow on several types of cacti but the most important is the genus Hylocerus, which are a vine-like crawling type of cacti. They are harvested manually in countries where they are produced commercially, such as Mexico, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Phillipines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Japan, China, Australia, and the USA. The fruits are non-climacteric.
The name of Dragon fruit comes from the Chinese, which call it Huǒ lóng guǒ, or “fire dragon fruit.” It is also called “dragon peral fruit” or Lóng zhū guǒ.