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Foodstuff: Dragon Fruit

I saw this at the store yesterday and remembered buying one the last time they appeared which was nearly two years ago. For the life of me, I could recall nothing of the taste, or even whether I liked it or not. I decided to give it another try and share the experience with you… 

The fruit was labeled ‘Dragon Fruit’ at our store and that seems to be a fairly common name but I gather that ‘Pitaya’ or ‘Pitahaya’ is the more botanically correct. In Chinese, the name reflects the name I bought it under. It is 火龍果 (Pinyin: huǒ lóng guǒ), meaning fire dragon fruit. It also seems to be called ‘strawberry pear’ or ‘pinkberry’ in some parts.

The interior, as you can see, is quite dull in contrast to the vibrant outer skin. There are quite a few different varieties however, and some of them have flesh colors varying from pink to quite a deep red. The red-fleshed Costa Rican variety can apparently cause the urine to become red if you eat too much but I gather that the effect is harmless.

Removing the pulp is very easy, You can just ease your fingers in between flesh and the skin and the whole thing pops right out in one piece.

And the Taste?

Biting into the flesh is somewhat like biting into watermelon, except it is just a bit firmer. I would say the consistency lies somewhere between watermelon and ripe cucumber. The taste is quite mild, actually. The closest thing I can compare it to is Kiwi fruit. At first the watery succulence has a very slight hint of under-ripe watermelon and then a citrusy taste dominates through the end. The acidity is about the same as Kiwi, but it is less sweet and the ‘fruity’ taste is more muted. The tiny seeds add a bit of a gritty texture but not in a way that is unpleasant at all.

I ate the sliced flesh just as it came from the fruit. I remember, when I was a child,, that we often used to eat melon with powdered ginger sprinkled on it and I think that would work well here. Cubed, it would go very nicely in a fruit salad and I expect it could be incorporated into a salsa to go with meats. I can’t really see many ways it could be cooked successfully  as I imagine it would just disintegrate into mud very quicklyh. Unfortunately, I ate the only fruit I had at one sitting and until it reappears in the store again, future experimentation will have to wait.

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