DRAGON FRUIT- MM good – but what is it?
Botanical Name: Hylocereus undatus
There is a Vietnamese farmer who lives across the street from the golf course where I play golf. He has a large variety of fruit trees on his land. I wondered, after I purchased a Dragon Fruit at a roadside fruit stand, whether he might have this fruit on his farm. As I cruised by on my golf cart – lo and behold, right in the middle of his Lychee trees there they were, a whole plot of Dragon Fruit trees.
I was so excited, I had to find out more about this delicious fruit. The one I bought looks like the picture above. This is the pitaya dragon fruit. It is indigenous to Central and South America, along with other Asian countries and as well it can be grown here in Florida. Actually, it is a cactus species. The trees can be grown from the seeds or if you are lucky you may find one already started in a nursery or who knows, maybe even Wal-Mart. To be a tree the cactus has to be staked. If not staked it will spread out over the ground. I like the tree effect. They produce beautiful pink or yellow flowers – sometimes called the “moonflower” because they bloom from evening to midnight. The flowers are pollinated by bats and moths.
Dragon fruits have red or yellow skin. They look like artichokes and when cut open the pulp has many, many, small black, edible seeds.They have a mildly sweet flavor, like a blend of kiwifruit and pear. The woman I purchased them from showed me how to cut them by simply slicing the fruit lengthwise. You can scoop the fruit out with a spoon, but I find it easier to cut in quarters and then just peel the flesh/skin off. It is easy to peel. Eat only the white part with seeds. Any residual pink parts, if it is left on the fruit makes it taste bitter. There is a variety where the inside is pink with seeds instead of white.
The Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants. They contain vitamin C, several B vitamins, carotene, protein, calcium, iron and phosphorus for healthy blood and tissue formation. They are beneficial in many ways, as they strengthen the immune system, help to heal bruises faster, and aid in respiratory problems. They contain phytochemical captain, used as a medication to treat heart problems and the oil in the seeds work as a mild laxative. The seeds also are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders. I can go on and on with the benefits of eating dragon fruit to include: ridding the body of heavy metals, improve eyesight and lower the risk of prostate cancer risk. The one caution would be to eat the fruit in moderation – it does contain natural fructose which could be harmful to your health in excess.
Eat as you would any fruit – in moderation. They can be eaten alone, in fruit salads, added to smoothies, grilled, and just about any way you might want to invent.
Dragon fruit shortly after being harvested can last for up to 2-3 weeks in a plastic bag when kept in the refrigerator. You can also freeze dragon fruit, but the texture is altered a little bit, making it best to be used in a sauce or made into a sorbet.
ARE YOU READY TO HUNT DRAGONS? I AM!