If dragon fruit didn’t exist, Dr. Seuss would probably have invented them. The colorful cactus fruit features a scary looking outside (don’t worry; those aren’t thorns, just soft flaps of “false thorns” called thrachs) and the inside features white or magenta flesh that’s bursting with peppery-looking (but mild-tasting) seeds. The visual effect is straight-up 60s psychedelic, so it’s no wonder #dragonfruit is one of the prettiest tag feeds on Instagram.
Red, meet yellow
While the red-skinned varieties have long been available in the United States, the yellow-skinned variety was introduced in the United States just last November. “We’re importing them from Ecuador, and they’ve proven to be immediately popular,” says Robert Schueller, Director of Public Relations at Melissa’s Produce and “Produce Guru” for Cooking Light magazine. The difference is more than just cosmetic, he says. “The yellow variety are much sweeter, with a Brix level of about 22, vs. only 10 -12 for the red-skinned varieties,” he says. “It’s really a different flavor profile.”
Easy prep, creative presentation
While the exterior can seem intimidating, Schueller says that prep actually is a breeze. “You can pierce the skin with a knife, slice it in half, and scoop out the flesh. The skin will peel away like a tangerine.” He says that some chefs cut the fruit longways and use the hollowed-out skin for presentation bowls. Dragon fruits’ firm flesh allows them to be shaped into interesting-looking shapes like balls or cubes.
While the fruits are popular in smoothies, smoothie bowls, fruit salads and savory salads, Schueller says they’re terrific frozen: “They make great ice creams or sorbets, or you can eat them directly from the freezer. That’s my favorite way to enjoy them—and I’ll have to admit that I’m partial to the sweeter yellow skin variety.”