I write with trepidation. I know if I casually toss out a claim that, “Red-fleshed dragon fruit are always sweet,” someone, somewhere, will run up and toss a bland, sickly, red-fleshed dragon fruit in my face. So I proceed cautiously: I’ve yet to stumble upon a stingy sourpuss of a red-fleshed dragon fruit. All the ones I’ve had have been glorious.
I say this because it occurred to me that with mangosteens suddenly becoming legally available in the U.S. and people there shelling out insane amounts for its antioxidant-rich juice, hard-to-get-your-hands-on tropical fruit may just be the next big thing. And while I’m in Asia—where tropical fruits don’t cost half the earth—I figure I’ll eat my way through the lot and share them here.
The red-fleshed variety (Costa Rica Pitaya), on the other hand, is generally sweet all the way through, with a mild acid bite. The insides look as if someone dropped the regular white-fleshed fruit in a vat of beetroot juice, and the outsides tend to look “squashed” (see pic above, and compare it to this one).
I’ve yet to spy the red-fleshed dragon fruit in the States, and my guess is that no one wants to import it when it’s uglier, and pricier to boot (about 70 cents each here in Singapore, while the white-fleshed ones are 99 cents for three!). There is apparently a yellow-skinned and white-fleshed variety (Yellow Pitaya), but I’ve no personal experience of them. Truly though, the best way to ensure you’re getting the good stuff is to look the friendly grocer in the eye and ask, “Are these sweet?” My friend’s mom is known for sampling fruit right before the grocer, and making a big show of treating the grocer to the sour fruit if he/she has been dishonest. Her reputation now precedes her, and she’s not been offered sub-par fruit in years!
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