Pinkish-red or yellow in color, this type of fruit is harvested from a species of climbing cactus that grows in tropical areas of the Middle East, Asia, Central and South America and a few other regions with warm climates. Dragon Fruit grows from a flowering bud into a fruit that is 3 to 4 inches in length when picked. If picked before the bud opens, the Dragon Fruit is then cooked and served as a vegetable rather than a fruit. As the flowering bud grows, the outer skin develops into an oval-shaped fruit with pointed leafty protrusions. Similar in appearance to a prickly pear which also grows on a cactus, the flesh of the Dragon Fruit provides a sweet, juicy flavor that tastes somewhat like a honeydew melon. The pulpy flesh of this fruit may be white or red in color and contain numerous small black seeds that are edible. The pink variety, which is also known as the red Dragon Fruit, matures into a pale pinkish-red-skinned fruit with either a white or pink colored flesh, depending on the species. The yellow-skinned species contains a white colored flesh.
Dragon Fruit is ripe when the red or yellow skin becomes golden yellow or bright red in color and become semi-firm or soft to the touch. They should be eaten as soon as possible when ripe or be refrigerated and stored for only several days after reaching maturity. Dragon Fruit provides both vitamin C and fiber to daily nutritional needs. To prepare, peel the outer skin and cut the flesh into slices to be lightly sprinkled with lemon or lime juice and served as fresh fruit. If too soft, cut the Dragon Fruit in half lenghtwise, scoop out the inner flesh and serve as is. Dragon Fruit can be enjoyed as a fresh fruit and is best when served chilled. In addition it can be sliced for use in salads, fruit pizzas, pastries, beverages, sherberts, sorbets, and preserves. The Dragon Fruit may also be referred to as dragonfruit, nanettikafruit, strawberry pear, pitaya, pitihayas, huo lóng guo, or thanh long.