Introduction: Preparing a Dragonfruit
Dragonfruit is a fresh, bright and refreshing fruit and is a pitahaya. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Food and Nutrition, a pitahaya /ˌpɪtəˈhaɪ.ə/ is:
Fruit of a variety of warm-climate cactus fruits, especially Cereus peruvianus, and Hylocereus and Selenicereus spp., also known as dragon fruit.
Dragonfruit itself is in the genus Hylocerus and comes in three distinct colour combinations:
- Hylocereus undatus – red skin, white flesh
- Hylocereus costaricensis – red skin, red flesh
- Hylocereus megalanthus – yellow skin, white flesh
It is often likened to kiwis because of its similar texture, and is sometimes called a cactus apple because it is the fruit of a cactus. Dragonfruit works well alongside mango for breakfast.
Fun fact: Cathay Pacific sometimes includes dragonfruit in their first class breakfast fruit platter (scroll to the end).
Checking for ripeness
A ripe dragonfruit will be predominantly bright pink, and the tips of the 'leaves' shouldn't be too brown. It should also be slightly soft to the touch, like a ripe kiwi.
Step 1: Cut It Open
The first step to preparing your dragonfruit is to cut it open. Opinions differ on whether to cut it open lengthwise or widthwise, but we chose to go with widthwise. Use a decently heavy knife to make getting through the leathery skin a breeze, if you have access to one and can handle it safely. If not, a normal knife will be fine. Once you have two halves, you can move on and decide whether to go for discs of fruit or cubes and balls.
Step 2: Discs
To make discs from your dragonfruit, simply take a half of the fruit and continue slicing. Slices about 15mm thick worked nicely for us. To remove the skin, simply make a small incision through it with a knife and peel it off like banana skin.
If you're left with a small chunk in the end of the fruit like we were, then simply scoop it out with a spoon.
Discs work fantastically (and look incredible) in a fruit platter.
Step 3: Cubes & Balls
To make cubes from your dragonfruit, slowly work a spoon between the flesh and skin in order to free a half of flesh. Turn the hemisphere of flesh upside down on a chopping board (so it looks like a dome) and dice into cubes like you might dice a vegetable.
To get balls of dragonfruit, simply use a melon baller (or ice cream scoop, if your dragonfruit is big enough; or even a spoon if you're brave enough) to make small balls of the flesh.
Cubes can be used to make fruit kebabs, while balls make an eye-catching accompaniment or garnish for practically any breakfast or dessert dish. As an added bonus, both these methods will produce a small amount of 'offcuts' which are great used in a smoothie, like the one we made. For an extra added bonus, save the skin and use as a cup!
Formlabs contest: I'd use a 3D printer to make awesome jelly (jello) or ice cube moulds among other things.