5-6Lbs RED Dragon Fruit *Exotic Fruit*
Red Dragon fruits grow on long, thin, vining cactuses that are often seen growing up trees, fences or walls. On the outside, Red Dragon fruits look almost identical to the white-fleshed variety. The brightly colored oblong fruits are about 10 centimeters in length and can weigh up to a pound. They have pink to magenta-colored skin that has the appearance of succulent, fleshy scales overlapping, leaving small, green-tipped protrusions along its length. The skin is thin, with an average thickness of only 3 millimeters, so the flesh to rind ratio is high. The bright magenta flesh of the Red Dragon fruit is the result of a compound called betacyanin, which is the same pigment present in beets and prickly pear fruit. The pulp has the texture of a kiwi fruit, with small, black edible seeds throughout. Red Dragon fruit is sweet, though not as sweet as the white-fleshed variety, and has a mild acidity. Seasons/Availability Red Dragon fruits are available year-round. Current Facts Red Dragon fruits, or Pitaya Roja, are botanically classified as Hylocereus constaricensus and sometimes Hylocereus polyrhizus. The former classification references its native Costa Rica. The red-fleshed Dragon fruits are rarer than the yellow skinned variety, and are not nearly as widely available as the white-fleshed variety. Red Dragon fruits are often called Costa Rican Dragon fruit or Purple Pitaya, and sometimes Strawberry Pear Cactus. In the United States, Florida and California produce these brightly fleshed fruits, in the off-season, they come directly from their native Nicaragua or Costa Rica. Nutritional Value Red Dragon fruit contains high amounts of vitamin C and has a high fiber content. They are also a good source of potassium and phosphorus, as well as other minerals and B-complex vitamins. Red Dragon fruit is rich in protein, antioxidants (from the betacyanins), lycopene and carotene. Dried Red Dragon fruit has ten-times the nutritional benefits of the fresh fruit. The benefits of Dragon fruit include improving the health of the eyes and skin, including protecting the skin from ultraviolet damage. Eating too much fresh Red Dragon fruit can cause a laxative affect. Applications Red Dragon fruit is often eaten raw, scooped with a spoon directly from the rind. Many prefer to refrigerate the fruits prior to eating, to chill the pulp within. Slice the fruit lengthwise or in half to expose the seeded flesh. The pulp can be added to smoothies or used to make sorbet and other desserts. Remove the flesh with a melon-baller and add to green or fruit salads for a topical addition. Red Dragon fruit will stain the skin and clothing, use care when preparing. Store Red Dragon fruit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. The fruit can be frozen for up to a year when sealed in a plastic bag. Red Dragon fruit can also be dried to preserve. Ethnic/Cultural Info Red Dragon fruit has been used by the indigenous people of Costa Rica and the surrounding areas for centuries. Geography/History Red Dragon fruit is native to what is now Costa Rica and has a range from Nicaragua just to the north, and down along the western coast of South America to Peru. The red-fleshed Dragon fruit variety has been planted in many different tropical and subtropical locations as the popularity of the white-fleshed Dragon fruit has increased. It is a hardy plant that is native to arid topical regions, but can grow in many sub-tropical regions around the globe. The Costa Rican Pitaya can be found growing in Malaysia, Taiwan, and in Southern California and Florida in the United States. Red Dragon fruit is also grown in Vietnam, where it is known as Trai Thanh long do. Since 2015, growers are planting more Red Dragon fruit cactus than the white variety because it tends to flower more, produce more fruits, and can fetch a higher price on the global market.
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