Saturday, August 17, 2013

What is Dragon Fruit?

Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit is a beautiful fruit grown in Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, and Israel and now in Sri Lanka. It was introduced to Sri Lanka a few years back and was an expensive fruit in the initial stages. Since the fruit fetched a high price many started growing dragon fruit plants on a commercial scale and made a good income. Now you can buy dragon fruit in many supermarkets and fruit stalls. Dragon fruit is also known as Pitaya in south East Asian countries. It is a beautiful fruit usually dark red color with the skin usually covered in scales. The center of the fruit is made up of red or white sweet tasting pulp with black seeds. No one knows from where the dragon fruit originated, but many believe it was brought from South America by the French, and planted them in Vietnam about a hundred years ago. It had been grown to be eaten by Royal families and very rich families.

Dragon Fruit Plant 

The dragon fruit is cultivated in tropical regions around the world. The plant of the dragon fruit can grow up to about twenty feet. It grows well in hot regions with a heavy rainfall which ranges from 20”-50” per year. The plant loves the high temperatures found in tropical countries. It is a cactus plant; with fleshy stems reaching from a few inches up to 20ft long .The plant may grow out of, and over the ground or climb onto trees using aerial roots. Flowers are ornate and beautiful, and many related species are propagated as ornamentals. They bloom only at night, and usually last just one night where pollination is necessary to set fruit. In full production, Dragon fruit plants can have up to 4-6 fruiting cycles per year.

Health benefits of Dragon fruit 

The plant is actually a type of cactus, and the fruit comes in 3 colors: 2 have pink skin, but with different colored flesh -one white, the other red, while another type is yellow with white flesh. Health benefit is another important factor in this fruit. Dragon fruit is low in calories and offers numerous nutrients, including Vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, plus fiber and antioxidants. Dragon fruit tastes wonderful! - Sweet and crunchy, with a flavor that's unique only to this fruit. Another important factor in dragon fruit is that dragon seeds contain phytoalbumin a chemical in addition to antioxidants. The seeds are found in the pulp of the fruit. These are very small, colored black, and covered by mucilage. This is very interesting that this substance can cure cancer. This is an added value to dragon fruits to become medicinal plants. Moreover, it enhances metabolism and improves memory, digestion and immune system. It also helps maintain clear vision, reduces fat, bad cholesterol, hypertension and blood glucose, strengthens bones and teeth development, promotes tissue development, improves appetite, moisturizes and smoothens skin, and is good for the liver.

How to Eat Dragon Fruit

Choose a ripe dragon fruit:
Look for bright, even-colored skin. If the fruit has a lot of blotches, it may be over-ripe but a few is normal. Another sign of over-ripe dragon fruit is a very dry, brittle brown stem, or brown on the tips of the "leaves". Hold the dragon fruit in your palm and try pressing the skin with your thumb or fingers - it should give a little, but shouldn't be too soft or mushy. If it's very firm, it will need to ripen for a few days.

Cut the Dragon Fruit 

Place the dragon fruit over a cutting board or other clean surface. Then cut the fruit straight down the middle with a sharp knife. It will cut quite easily.

Open the Dragon Fruit 

Cut through to the other side, so that you can separate the fruit into 2 sections. Inside the flesh may be white or red - both will have tiny black edible seeds.

Separate the Flesh from the Skin.
There are various ways to prepare dragon fruit for eating - this is just one way. Run a tablespoon around the circumference of the first section to separate the flesh from the skin.
Lift Flesh out of the Skin.
Now lift the flesh out of the skin and place it on the cutting board. Reserve the skin for serving if desired. Note that the skin is NOT edible. Do the same for the other half.
Remove Skin from Flesh.
Turn the mound of flesh over, checking for any residual pink skin. Slice this off, as the skin isn't healthy to ingest.
Slice up the Dragon Fruit.
Now you can slice up the flesh. Cubes work well for eating the fruit fresh. Enjoy Your Fresh Dragon Fruit a Variety of Ways! Buy dragon fruit and enjoy the flavor today!

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