Dragon fruit, or pitaya, are cactus fruit that come in three types. They can have either red or yellow skin. The varieties with red skin can have white or red flesh, while the yellow-skinned variety has white flesh. For any of the three varieties, you can determine if a dragon fruit is ripe by looking at and touching the fruit before eating. If you grow your own dragon fruits, harvest your fruits at the right time to ensure ripeness.
Looking at a Dragon Fruit to Determine its Ripeness
1 Look for dragon fruit that is red or yellow in color. When a dragon fruit is not ripe it will be green in color. As the fruit matures and ripens, the outer skin color changes to red or yellow, depending on the variety.
- When ripe the outer skin should be bright and even-colored. If the fruit has a lot of dark blotches on the skin, similar to bruises on an apple, then it may be overripe. A few spots, however, are normal.
2 Determine if the “wings” on the fruit have started to wither. Dragon fruit wings are the leafy part that extend off of the fruit. When they start to dry out, turn brown, and wither, the dragon fruit is ripe and ready to be eaten. Conversely, if the wings are still colorful (ie red or yellow), that means the fruit is underripe and still needs more time to ripen.
- Once the dragon fruit has reached the stage of ripeness where the wings start to wither, the fruit should come off the vine fairly easily with a light twist. If the fruit falls off the vine on its own, it is overripe.
3 Cut open the dragon fruit. The inside of a dragon fruit is usually white, deep pink, or purple, depending on the variety, and contains tiny black seeds. The black seeds are edible and are similar in appearance to those found in a kiwi. When ripe the inside of a dragon fruit should appear juicy yet firm in texture: like a cross between a melon and a pear.
- When a dragon fruit is overripe the inner flesh will turn brown in color, similar to the bruised flesh of a banana. You should not eat fruit that is brown or dried out.