If you’ve ever eaten a dragon fruit or seen one, you’re sure to remember it. The outside of the fruit is magenta pink with green spikes, and the inside is bright white with black seeds all over it. You may also have noticed that the beautiful fruit goes by more than one name.
The bright fruit has always been called pitaya. Pitayas were first grown in South and Central America, but now they are grown all over the world. Malaysia and Vietnam are two places where the fruit sells very well. So why do they have three names? Well, the fruit used to be called pitaya, but these days most people call it dragon fruit. But both names are still right. The dragon fruit comes from a plant called a cactus. Pitaya is a popular ingredient in smoothies and smoothie bowls, as well as in desserts, cocktails, and just on its own.
What is the difference between pitaya and dragon fruit?
The beautiful exotic fruit’s name, pitaya or pitahaya (they both mean the same thing), comes from its Latin American roots. It comes from Central America (dating back to the 13th century). But it made its way to Vietnam and Malaysia, where it is now widely grown. This is likely because it is popular with Asian consumers. We’ve heard that the Vietnamese word “thang loy” translates to “dragon fruit” in English, which is why it has a different name. The fruit is grown commercially in Israel and shipped to the U.S. The people who grow it call it “pitaya” or “pitahaya,” but the people who grow it in Vietnam call it “dragon fruit.”
So, they are the same fruit whether they are called pitaya, pitahaya, or dragon fruit. You might be starting to see them everywhere. Fresh in the produce section of your grocery store, at your favorite juice bar, or even as an air freshener scent.
Most dragon fruit have one thing in common: they are good for you because they are high in fiber and vitamin C. But the way each fruit tastes can be different. The Vietnamese fruit with white flesh is beautiful on the outside, but it doesn’t taste all that special. Compare that to the dark purple-red flesh of Nicaraguan fruit, which is sweet, juicy, and meaty like watermelon.
Actually, dragon fruit is related to the cactus pear. But the seeds of a dragon fruit are completely soft and edible, like those of a kiwifruit, while the seeds of a cactus pear are crunchy, like those of a passion fruit. Also, the dragon fruit doesn’t have spines on its skin like the cactus pear does.
So, the next time you’re in the produce section of your store and see a big display of tropical fruits, don’t be afraid to buy one and try it! Dragon fruit don’t last very long, so it’s best to take them home and use them in a fruit salad or smoothie the same day or the next.
What does dragon fruit / pitaya taste like?
When it comes to taste, this tropical fruit packs a sweet punch. It is a cross between a “kiwi and a pear or a kiwi and a watermelon,” and it is sometimes called a “strawberry pear.” The black seeds scattered through the soft white inside of the fruit give it the same texture as a kiwi, but the sweetness of the fruit makes it taste more like a pear or watermelon.
There are many kinds of this oval-shaped fruit. The most common type of dragon fruit is Hylocereus undatus, but other species of the fruit vary in size, sweetness, and even color. Selenicereus megalanthus, the most rare type, is a small, very sweet dragon fruit with yellow skin instead of the more common magenta skin.
Using your fruit to its fullest
So what can you do with a pitaya or a dragon fruit? Dragon fruit and pitaya are great in sauces and taste great when eaten fresh. They are also a tasty and healthy addition to a smoothie or juice blend. Dragon fruit, also called pitaya, is easy to add to a lot of different dishes. It tastes good, is good for your health, and is refreshing.
Pitaya can be preserved and used in recipes, especially smoothies, by freezing it. With frozen pitaya smoothie packs that are easy to use, juice and smoothie bar owners can easily add pre-processed fruit to any mixture for easy blending.
Pitaya and dragon fruit are tasty whether they are fresh or frozen. You can eat them in many different ways. These amazing fruits are great for making everything from salad dressings to juices that are full of nutrients. They should be on your shelf. Adding pitaya or dragon fruit to your drinks, either fresh, frozen, or a mix of both, is the best way to keep your customers coming back for more.