The exotic dragon fruit isn’t widely used in a lot of recipes, but the unique flavor and texture can be a great addition to any dish. But cutting a dragon fruit without making a mess can be tricky because of its tough exterior and juicy pulp.
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The bright red-purple outside along with green tips sprouting out from all angles makes the fruit look a lot like the scales of a mystical dragon. The delicious fruit is also known by the name of pitaya, strawberry pear, or pitahaya in Southeast Asia and South America where it is more commonly used.
Unlike an orange or banana, you won’t be able to easily peel off the outside of the tropical fruit because the strong exterior protects the inside tiny black seeds at all costs. Instead, you’ll need to use a sharp knife to cut into the dragon fruit plants, just like a pineapple. The process can be messy and hard to complete for chefs not familiar with using the ingredient.
The most surprising part of cutting into a dragon fruit plant is the incredibly soft and juicy inside. It almost looks like a dalmatian with its black seeds and white interior. However, not all dragon fruits are the same and you’re likely to see red flesh, white flesh, or yellow dragon fruit flesh when you slice open your dragon fruit.
Many health-conscious eaters look at dragon fruit as a superfruit because of its high content of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You’ll want to look in your local grocery store anywhere from summer to fall to find the most ripe dragon fruit available. You can add it to almost any dish including fruit salad, smoothies, and even desserts for a unique dragon fruit taste.
Before you can reap the health benefits of the red dragon fruit or try out some creative recipes for it, you’ll need to know how to properly cut into it without making a mess. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to do just that.
Dragon Fruit Cutting
Don’t be intimidated by the appearance of your white dragon fruit when you’re getting ready to cut it open. It’s actually pretty easy to get to the middle of the fresh fruit where all the deliciousness lives. Dragon fruit cuttings from fruit trees are the freshest but it will be hard to get your hands on the hylocereus undatus unless you live in Central America or Asia. Growing dragon fruit plants isn’t very likely in colder climates.
To understand the dragon fruit and how to cut it open, you’ll need to understand what you’re working with. The layers of the exterior start with the surface of the dragon fruit skin. You’ll find it’s pink skin pretty smooth all around with very little texture, almost like a pear or mango. Coming out of the smooth surface are hardened green tips that come to a point at the end. Although not as sharp as a cactus, these green tips can feel unpleasant if you accidentally stick your hand on one.
Below the smooth surface is a waxy layer that separates the pulp area from the external environment. This layer is pretty soft and won’t cause much trouble, plus, it’s easy to peel away from the pulp if you can’t cut everything off.
Step 1: Cut Your Dragon Fruit in Half
Your first step is going to be to cut the dragon fruit open into two halves that are equal. You’ll need a cutting board and a sharp knife to do this.
Place your dragon fruit on the cutting board at an angle where the fruit doesn’t roll around. Make sure you have a good grip on the dragon fruit before you start cutting, because it can be slippery due to the smooth skin. Usually, using a pair of cut-resistance gloves is best.
Take your knife and slice the dragon fruit in half lengthwise. Start by cutting the fruit on its side and allow the knife to cut through into the stem of the fruit and all the way through the middle. Starting with the dragon fruit on the side helps the knife cut into the fruit itself and gives you a nice starting point. Otherwise, the knife might have resistance at the top of the fruit due to the stem and it may cause an accident.
The tough exterior should easily break open and give you clear access to the juicy pulp inside. You don’t really have to continue onto step 2 unless you have plans on adding the dragon fruit to another dish. Otherwise, it’s just as good to use a spoon and start carving out your dragon fruit pulp.
Step 2: How to Remove the Skin (two methods)
This is the easiest method available and works well if you aren’t trying to keep the fruit in a specific shape.
You’ll take a large spoon that fits into the dragon fruit and gently scoop out all the flesh from the inside. This process is similar to avocado and you’ll need somewhere to put all the flesh whenever you scoop it out.
This method isn’t as easy as the first but it works better for cooks who need to preserve the integrity of the dragon fruit to add it to a salad or dessert.
Instead of keeping your dragon fruit in halves, take your knife and cutting board and chop the dragon fruit into fourths.
Now, you can take your hands and peel away the skin of the dragon fruit from the pulp. The skin is tough and it might take some wrangling, but cutting the fruit into fourths helps make the process easier.
Step 3: Cutting the Fruit into Smaller Pieces (3 ways)
Cutting into slices
In order to cut your fruit into slices, you’ll need a sharp knife and a cutting board again. Place the dragon fruit on its side, just like when you were slicing through it earlier.
Begin by making one large cut lengthwise down the center of the fruit and this will open it up into two halves. Once you have the initial cut, go ahead and peel off the skin. Next, use the tip of your knife and create slice lines that will guide you when you’re ready to fully cut the dragon fruit. When all your slice lines are made, go ahead and start fully cutting the dragon fruit into slices depending on how thick or thin you want them.
You can use dragon fruit slices for cool and refreshing drinks, smoothies, and breakfasts.
Cutting into Cubes
Cutting a dragon fruit into cubes is relatively easy and can be done in a few simple steps. Begin by washing the dragon fruit with cold water before drying it off. Now, you want to get rid of the ends of the dragon fruit to make it easier to cut, so use your sharp knife to get rid of the top and bottom ends.
Once that is done, go ahead and cut your dragon fruit in half as described in the step above, and then peel away all the skin. Now that you have two halves created, go ahead and cut your dragon fruit into slices as you did in the step above.
Take your slices and cut them lengthwise and then turn them 90 degrees and cut them again. This should leave you with about an inch-thick cube you can use for all kinds of recipes. You can make more cuts into your slices if you want smaller cubes for your recipes.
Cutting into Spheres
Cutting your dragon into spheres can make the exotic fruit look even more beautiful than you ever expected. Something about having a perfect sphere of fruit on a dish makes it look more appealing.
To start, cut your dragon fruit in half like you’ve done in the previous two methods. Instead of peeling off the skin or cutting the fruit further, you should grab a melon scoop and get the job done with the skin on.
Take your melon scoop and start making your small spheres with the soft flesh inside. The smaller scoop you use, the more spheres you’ll be able to make. You’ll probably end up with some extra dragon fruit that you can eat as a treat for all your hard work.
If you just bought your dragon fruit from your local grocery chain and you haven’t actually made any cuts, you can keep it out at room temperature until you’re ready to cut. You don’t want to let it sit longer than 2 or 3 days because the fruit might start to spoil. If your fruit isn’t as ripe as you’d like but you need to use it pretty soon, placing your fruit in a paper bag with an apple or banana will speed up the process. The ethylene gas from the other fruits helps your dragon fruit become the perfect ripeness.
You can, however, take a sealed plastic bag and put your fruit inside, and toss everything in the fridge if your dragon fruit is the perfect ripeness and you want to slow down the spoiling process. The bag will help it absorb smells from any of the other food in your fridge and you can keep the entire thing for about a week.
Once you’ve cut dragon fruit, store the dragon fruit in an airtight container and make sure to keep them in a cool place like your refrigerator. If you need to store them for longer periods of time, you can always puree the pulp and freeze it.
The Different Ways You Can Use Dragon Fruit
- Dragon fruit can be used as a topping or garnish for tropical fruit salad and other cold dishes.
- To make smoothies, or smoothie bowl, blend a dragon fruit with other frozen fruits, yogurt, or juice.
- Grill slices of the dragon fruit to add an exotic flavor to your BBQ recipes.
- Create delicious desserts such as pies or tarts using the pureed flesh of a dragon fruit.
- Use dragon fruit to make purees or sauces for chicken or fish dishes.
- Add chopped bits of dragon fruit to ice cream or sorbets for an extra twist on classic desserts.
There’s a reason that many people call the dragon fruit a superfruit. All of the nutrition benefits you get outweigh many other fruits that have an excess of natural sugars.
For starters, dragon fruit is a great source of magnesium, iron, fiber, and potassium. It’s even a great prebiotic for meals and can help digestion. If you really want to get the most nutrition out of your fruit, choose the red pulp variety as these usually contain more healthy ingredients. When you change the color of your dragon fruit you are adding additional plant polyphenols like betalain, lycopene, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. All these can help you prevent further cellular damage and keep you younger.
How to Cut Dragon Fruit
- 1 red variety dragon fruit
- Put your dragon fruit on a cutting board and make sure the fruit is lying on its side.
- Take a sharp knife and start to slice the fruit lengthwise, starting at the top of your fruit and working your way down into the stem. Cut slowly when working through the stem area to avoid any accidents.
- If you don't need to keep a shape, scoop out the flesh with a large spoon and use it for any recipe. Otherwise, you'll need to peel away the skin from the dragon fruit before continuing to cut.
- Cut your dragon fruit into slices, cubes, or spheres to your desired size.