The little-known dragon fruit in this country - Pitahaya or Pitaya, so the real name - belongs to the family of cacti. Since the fruit shell consists of flaky lobes and thus reminiscent of the scales of a dragon, it is colloquially known as dragon fruit. Because of this special appearance, the sweet to sour tasting, egg-shaped fruit, such as the star fruit or the physalis, often used for purely decorative purposes. What is a pity, because it contains many valuable vitamins and minerals and can therefore be described as extremely healthy. In addition, the jelly-like tropical fruit not only fits wonderfully to other exotic fruits or peps up recipes for smoothies or fruit salads, but can also be served for example instead of melon to ham.
Dragon Fruit: What does it look like and what's in it?
The fruits maturing on a climbing cactus plant can weigh up to 500 grams and are then about twice as big as a kiwi. Pitahaya are divided into three varieties. Either the meaty-flaky shell is:
- pink and the pulp inside white (Hylocereus undatus),
- pink with red pulp (Hylocereus monacanthus) or
- yellow with white flesh (Selenicereus megalanthus).
Like papaya, dragon fruit has its origins in Central America. The fruit that is mostly exported from Southeast Asia, especially from Vietnam, to Europe is therefore not a native fruit in Germany.
The pink-fleshy fruits owe their appearance to their naturally high content of beta-carotene and betalain dyes. These substances, in turn, can be converted into vitamin A in the body, helping them regulate cell growth, for example. Vitamin A - also called eye vitamin - also ensures a healthy visual organ and strengthens the eyesight. In addition, the dragon fruit contains a lot:
- Vitamin B, C and E
While calcium and phosphorus have a positive effect on the connective tissue and the skin as well as on healthy bones and teeth, iron is responsible for the formation of blood in the body.
5 special features of the dragon fruit
Dragon fruit has many fruits in common with all of these positive effects. But what differentiates them from the others and makes them special are the following five characteristics:
- It contains a lot of vitamin C, which naturally strengthens the immune system.
- It can help to regulate blood sugar levels due to swelling fibers.
- The dragon fruit has a positive influence on the cholesterol level and can thus help to prevent heart disease.
- It contains Lycopene, an antioxidant that can eliminate certain cancer cells.
- In addition, the high water content and the protein-splitting enzymes contained in the pulp and in the tiny black kernels of the fruit stimulate digestion.
Attention: For a sensitive bowel, it is advisable to eat in moderation, as the fruit may have a laxative effect.
Calories and nutrition facts of dragon fruit
The dragon fruit consists of 90 percent water. Therefore, their calorie content, like an apple, is around 50 kilocalories per 100 grams, that is about 210 kilojoules. Consequently, the Exotin can rightly call itself a very figurative fruit.
Additional nutritional values per 100 grams of a dragon fruit:
- Fat: 0.4 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 7.1 grams (of which sugar: 6.9 grams)
- Dietary fiber: 0.5 grams
Buy dragon fruits
Such exotic fruits are mainly used by well-stocked supermarkets and delicatessen markets. The prices of dragon fruit can be very different.
This is not only seasonal or dealer-related, but has to do on the one hand with the quality and size and with the origin. Thus, for example, goods from Sri Lanka are more expensive than those from Thailand, Vietnam or Central America. When buying a dragon fruit, the best taste experience should focus first and foremost on quality and secondarily on cost.
Practical tips for buying and storing pitahaya
Dragon fruits are highly sensitive to pressure and therefore should only be available individually packaged. For yellow varieties Above all, make sure that the shell is completely colored. At the pink fruits, that they only yield slightly when they hit the Dag and are not too soft.
As dragon fruits dry out easily and then become shriveled, they are best stored at room temperature. So they hold themselves then four to five days. When stored refrigerated, they also stay fresh for about twelve days.
But what you should pay attention to is to protect them from bruises, otherwise they spoil much faster. Here's the tip: put the fruit either upright or - even better - hang it up.
In order to preserve the beautiful colors and attractive scales, it is advisable to spray the fruits with water several times a day.
How do you eat a dragon fruit?
It is best to eat the dragon fruit raw. If she is also chilled, she has a very invigorating effect. The flesh of the most famous kind is gray-white and similar to a kiwi, with innumerable black seed kernels. But the mere description of their appearance does not yet explain how they can be peeled, cut and enjoyed. Namely by:
- the fruit is halved and spooned,
- the ends are cut off and the shell peeled off.
Then you can cut the pulp into cubes, slices or slices. But beware: The shell of the dragon fruit is absolutely inedible.
How does the dragon fruit taste?
While the pink-colored Pitahaya with white pulp tastes rather neutral but sour and therefore extremely refreshing, the yellow-skinned dragon fruit is the most aromatic. Its aroma is a bit like a mixture of strawberry, pineapple and mango. However, the fruit is the most intense with a pinkish peel and red interior.
Although the three species differ in color and taste, but the consistency remains the same: The dragon fruit is always jelly-like. It is most similar to a gooseberry or kiwi.
Pitahaya: recognize and process ripe and unripe fruits
The aroma and the sweetness of a dragon fruit develop with increasing maturity. Therefore, you can taste from an immature fruit - no matter what it is - only the high water content out. One can recognize this on its still green discolored shell. Although the flesh is not sweet yet, it can already be used in the kitchen. But then as "vegetables." Cooked, the dragon fruit resembles the flavor of a potato and fits in combination with other vegetables wonderful in a colorful fry.
Dragon Fruit: When is it ripe?
A good degree of ripeness can be read not only by the optics - a strong pink or yellow fruit peel - but also by the pressure sensitivity of the respective dragon fruit. If the shell gives way slightly when pressed, it is a ripe fruit. Since ripe fruits lose their flavor due to the heat, they are best enjoyed raw or processed into cold starters or desserts.
In any form, the watery flesh of dragon fruit makes good in juices, milkshakes or smoothies. Whether pure in the rumbowle or as an alcohol-free cocktail in combination with other exotics: The fruit is in every case versatile.
Tips for preparing pitahaya
Would you like your next garden party to be on everyone's lips for a longer time? Then try an exotic fruit buffet. The dragon fruit is just like the Physalis in her papery calyx to a real eye-catcher.
Likewise, the Pitahaya is compatible with other tropical fruits and, for example, peppers every conventional fruit salad together with pomegranates.
In addition to fruit salads, cakes or ice cream, the fruit can be marmalade processed similar to the passion fruit family Maracuja. Here is a tip: The generally very sweet persimmon jam could be mixed with the flesh of the dragon fruit and neutralized in this way. In addition, the dragon fruit fits in salads and can be served with cheese, ham or fish.