Names: pithaya · strawberry pear
Origin: Cambodia · Thailand · China · Vietnam · Sri Lanka · the Philippines
Plant: Hylocereus undatus
Legend: During battle many years ago, fire wasn’t the only thing that came out of a dragon’s mouth. At the end of each fiery blow, a dragon fruit would fall from the dragon’s tongue and onto the ground. Once the dragon was slain, soldiers collected the fruit and presented it to the Emperor as a symbol of victory.
In Season: summer to early fall
Benefits: antioxidant properties · replenishes blood · strengthens immune system · helps with digestion and constipation
Nutrients: vitamin C · iron · fiber
WHERE TO BUY
Store: Asian markets, or your grocery store’s produce section near other exotic fruit.
BUY this: leathery, bright, even-colored skin; flexible stem; green scales
AVOID this: bruises, blotchy coloring; dry, browned scales
Shopping Tip: Squeeze it like you would an avocado or pear. If it’s too firm, then it will need a few days to ripen. If it’s too soft, then it’s past its prime. Try to find a middle ground with flesh that yields when squeezed.
NOTE: We all know it’s rare to find perfectly ripe produce—so a hard dragon fruit will do, just give it some time to soften.
HOW TO STORE
Keep the dragon fruit on your kitchen counter until the pink skin darkens (a sign of ripeness). If you’re not ready to use it, move it into your fridge for up to 3 days. If it’s cut open, wrap halves in plastic wrap and place cubes in a sealed container.
NOTE: Dragon fruit is tastier when chilled.
- Thanks to all of its active antioxidants, dragon fruit keeps skin looking bright and youthful. You can use it as a firming face mask.
- If you have dyed hair, then dragon fruit is a godsend. Use juice or conditioners with dragon fruit extract to nourish your follicles.