Learn how to cut a dragon fruit (as known as pitaya) with this simple step-by-step guide. The sweet speckled flesh is a tropical treat for a healthy snack or to add to other recipes.
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If you’re lucky enough to spot exotic dragon fruit at the market, don’t pass it up! With its alluring bright magenta skin and green leaves resembling the scales of the mythical beast, it’s hard to miss. From the Cactaceae (cactus) family, this tropical fruit is also known as pitaya, pitahaya, or strawberry pear.
The leaves may look prickly and intimidating, but it’s easy to slice through. Once cut open, you’ll be surprised to find flesh speckled with tiny black seeds. Depending on the type, the pulp may be white, red, or purple. Regarded as a superfruit, the fruit’s peak season is in the summer months until early fall. Once you open it up, you can simply enjoy it sliced, add it into a salad, smoothies, or even place it on the grill.
How to cut dragon fruit
Although the exterior looks tough with its scaly protruding leaves, it’s effortless to slice through. The skin’s surface is thin and smooth like a mango. Right beneath is a thicker soft, waxy and pliable peel that separates easily from the pulp.
Step 1: Cut in half
Place the dragon fruit on a cutting board. Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the fruit in half lengthwise. I recommend starting at the top, then down into the thicker stem. You can eat the pulp straight from the halve using a spoon.
Step 2: Remove the skin (2 ways)
Method 1: Scoop it out
Now that there are two halves, you have two options. Use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh, just like an avocado.
Method 2: Peel the skin
Alternatively, you can use your fingers to peel the thick skin away from the fruit. It’s easier to do this when cut into fourths.
Step 3: Cut into smaller pieces (3 ways)
Method 1: Slices
Depending on how you will use the dragon fruit, you can cut it into thick or thin slices. For a fancy presentation, I like to cut it into pieces with the skin on like oranges.
Method 2: Cubes
Start with slices, then cut lengthwise and turn and cut in the opposite direction to create cubes. I like to freeze ¾-inch cubes in a single layer to use in a dragon fruit smoothie.
Method 3: Spheres
I find it easiest to use a melon baller to scoop out the flesh while the skin is still intact for round spheres.
Store the whole dragon fruit at room temperature. If it’s ripe but you’re not ready to enjoy, store it in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. This technique prevents it from picking up smells from other foods.
If underripe, you can place it in a paper bag with an apple or banana. The ethylene gas emitted from those fruits accelerates ripening. For cut pieces, store in an airtight container for about 2 to 5 days, but discard when the flesh turns brown or mushy.
Ways to use dragon fruit
- Add frozen red dragon fruit to a smoothie
- Add sliced or cubes on top of an acai bowl
- Use a melon baller to create spheres and add to a fruit salad
- Cut into thick slices or large cubes on a skewer and grill
- Add small pieces on top of oatmeal, overnight oats, or yogurt
- Toss into a mango or pineapple salsa
Dragon fruit is a good source of dietary fiber, prebiotics, magnesium, iron, and potassium. It’s no surprise that it’s regarded as a superfruit, especially the red pulp variety. The colorful pigment delivers additional plant polyphenols, like the antioxidants vitamin C, betalains, lycopene, and beta-carotene to prevent cellular damage .
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How to Cut Dragon Fruit
- 1 dragon fruit, pitaya
- Place the fruit on a cutting board and lay the dragon fruit on its side.
- Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the fruit in half lengthwise, starting from the top of the fruit down to the stem.
- Use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh. Alternatively, use fingers to peel away the skin.
- Cut the flesh into slices or cubes in the desired size.
- Storing: Place cut pieces in an airtight container for up to 2 to 5 days. Discard once the flesh becomes brown or mushy.
- Freezing: Cut into ½ to ¾-inch pieces. Store in a single layer in a large resealable bag. Fruit can be frozen for up to 12 months.
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