People often do not know and believe that dragon fruits do not grow on trees, shrubs or bushes but on cacti!
Yes, these beautiful exotic fruits come from cacti in many parts of Southeast Asia and are a common delicacy in Malaysia, Thailand, China, etc. Now, you can find dragon fruit in Central and South America. Besides being delicious, it is high on carbs, but calories are not too much.
Spotting dragon fruits is simple because of their unique appearance. Yet, finding a ripe, good-quality dragon fruit to enjoy can be challenging. Understanding the characteristics of a fully ripe, ready-to-eat dragon fruit is essential to ensure you enjoy every bite.
Let’s tell you how to pick dragon fruits.
When Should you Pick Dragon Fruit?
If you grow dragon fruits yourself, harvesting them at the right time is critical to avoid unripe or overripe fruit. It is best to harvest the fruit between 27 and 33 days after the plant flowers. Another approach is to notice the color change of the fruit and pick it up four days after the fruit changes its color.
Dragon fruits typically have red or yellow skin, though you may also find purple varieties. The flesh of red skin dragon fruit can be white or red. Meanwhile, the yellow-skinned fruit variety has white flesh.
So, you must pick the fruit when it has the right color and texture and is fully ripe.
There are various ways you can tell if the dragon fruit is ripe without peeling or cutting the dragon fruit.
How to Tell if Dragon Fruit is Ripe?
You can tell the ripeness of the dragon fruit by tasting it as unripe or overripe dragon fruits are tasteless or bland. Moreover, brown flesh also indicates overripe fruit.
But how to check the ripeness of the dragon fruit when it is on the cactus?
Here’s how you can tell if a dragon fruit is ripe:
Color is the primary determinant of the ripeness of fruits in general. As dragon fruits are yellow or red in color, a color like green will indicate that it is still unripe. Do not pick the dragon fruit when it is green or yellowish-green. Before harvesting it, wait for it to develop a beautiful red or yellow color. At the same time, numerous dark patches on the skin indicate overripe fruit. Make sure to take care of the harvesting time, or you may not be able to enjoy the fruit in the best possible way.
When picking fruits from your dragon fruit tree, you can determine the ripeness of the fruit by checking the texture of the fruit. You should not use this method when buying fruits from vendors as it may bruise the fruits and harm the vendor’s business.
Check the quality of the fruit by gently pressing it with your thumb or fingers. A firm fruit means that it is unripe, and an overripe fruit will be very mushy. It is better to purchase unripe dragon fruits than overripe ones, as the former will ripen in a few days. Use the same test to check when it is completely ripe.
The appearance of the stem may also help you understand if the fruit is under ripe or overripe. Ripe dragon fruits have green, fleshy stems, whereas the stems of overripe fruits are brittle and dried out.
Dragon fruits have a distinct appearance with a bright color, with wings and pricks on the surface. The wings or leaves of the fruit are green, yellow, or red when it is unripe. As it matures, the leaves start drying and turning brown. When you see that the leaves are withering, you can pick the dragon fruit off the plant and enjoy it. In full ripeness, the fruit will easily come out of the vine with a gentle twist only.
How to Pick Dragon Fruit?
Now that you know how to tell if a fruit is ripe, it is important to understand when and how to pick dragon fruit.
Harvesting at ripeness is the most critical element of picking dragon fruit. Harvesting them much before ripeness will not allow them to ripen fully, and you will not be able to enjoy the delicious fruit. Keep an eye on the color change of the fruit and remove the fruit after four days of color change.
Clean the Fruit
Before taking the fruit off the plant, remove the thorns with gloves or by brushing them off. Mostly the thorns start shedding themselves as the fruit ripens. However, you should remove the needs if you spot any.
Twist and Remove
Once the fruit is ripe and clean from thorns, it is time to detach the dragon fruit from the vine by twisting it gently. Ripe fruit easily detaches from the plant on twisting a few times. It is not ripe if the dragon fruit does not break off easily. Wait a day or two and try again when the wings turn brown.
Remove the Dried Flower
After pulling the fruit from the vine, the next step is to remove the dried flowers at the bottom of the fruit. Cut them using a knife or tear them using your hands. The flowers come out easily as they are dried and brittle on maturation.
Your dragon fruit is ready to be eaten now. Peel it, cut it, and enjoy the nutritional benefits of dragon fruit.
Storing Dragon Fruit
You can store dragon fruit unpeeled or peeled per your need. However, unpeeled fruit lasts longer than peeled and cut. Here’s how you can store dragon fruit to make it last as long as possible.
Keep the unpeeled dragon fruit in your refrigerator drawer at temperatures between 7 and 10 Celsius (45 – 50 Fahrenheit). Dragon fruits may last for as long as 3 months in the refrigerator.
Peeled and cut dragon fruit will not stay good in the fridge for a long time. Thus, storing it in the freezer in a sealed container is important. Whether you store it as cubes or wedges, the fruit will not retain its shape on thawing. So, scooping out the pulp and saving it in sealed ziplock bags or containers is suggested. You can use the prepared dragon fruit in smoothies, ice creams, oatmeal, etc.
Note: Unwashed, uncut dragon fruit can also be stored at room temperature if consumed within 3 days.
The Bottom Line
Ensuring the ripeness of the dragon fruit is critical when thinking of how to pick dragon fruit. You can check the ripeness of the fruit by examining its color, texture, and wings. Use your thumb to check the mushiness of the fruit. Mushy fruits are overripe, while firmer pieces are unripe, so they are not the best choice. It is best to pick dragon fruits four days after they change color. Remove their thorns before gently twisting to remove the fruit from the vine. Enjoy the fruit after cutting it into shapes of your choice. It is beneficial for your blood sugar, cholesterol, and immunity. Store them at room temperature in the refrigerator or freezer per your need.
What color dragon fruit is the sweetest?
Yellow dragon fruit is the sweetest variety of all dragon fruits and also the most popular one. You might see red dragon fruit more commonly because of its presentation. Yet, the yellow fruit is juicier and sweeter.
Will dragon fruit ripen after picking?
Dragon fruits may ripen if you harvest them near their ripening time; they might ripen in a few days. However, picking the fruit off the vine a lot earlier than the harvesting time does not ripen as much as other fruits.
Is dragon fruit a lucky fruit?
Dragon fruits are considered lucky and sell highly during Christmas. People believe that it is a symbol of beauty and luck. The fruit has a delicious, fruity flavor that resembles a mix of pear and kiwi.
Can you eat dragon fruit seeds?
Yes, you can eat the flesh of the dragon fruit containing the tiny black seeds. The flesh of the fruit is high in antioxidants, prebiotics, and fiber. You might be surprised to know that you can also eat dragon fruit peel; fried dragon fruit peel is a common delicacy in Indonesia.
What is dragon fruit supposed to taste like?
Dragon fruit has a mild sweet taste that feels like a combination of kiwi and pear. Ripe dragon fruits are quite sweet. At the same time, unripe dragon fruits are bland and feel tasteless.
Meet me; I am Paulina Zaniewska, who’s more hooked on providing the best health blog. I’ve always been so determined to compete as a nutritionist, and here I am, done with a Master’s in food technology. My brilliant performance throughout encouraged me to help people.