Gone are the days when our fruit bowls just contained apples, oranges, and bananas!
Nowadays we have access to a huge range of exotic fruits from all around the world, and the health benefits of fruits such as dragon fruit are becoming more widely known.
But how long does dragon fruit last, and what is the best way to store it? Ripe dragon fruit will last for just 2-3 days at normal room temperature. This time can be extended by storing ripe dragon fruit at cooler temperatures. Ripe dragon fruit can be stored for up to three weeks in the refrigerator, or a year in the freezer.
If you’ve come home from the store with dragon fruit for the first time, keep reading to find out how to make the most out of this incredible fruit.
What Is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit is an extraordinary-looking exotic fruit, that not only tastes delicious but is also highly nutritious.
Native to southern Mexico and Central America, dragon fruit grows on a plant known as the Honolulu Queen, which only flowers at night.
The remarkable fruits of this plant are a distinctive bright red color with green scales, said to resemble the skin of a dragon. The inner white pulp is scattered with tiny black seeds and has a semi-soft consistency with a creamy texture.
Other varieties of dragon fruit have variations on this theme, such as dragon fruit with red pulp or yellow skin.
In terms of flavor, dragon fruit is sweet and fresh, and so tropical that you feel that you’ve been transported to a sandy white beach in the Bahamas. The taste is likened to a cross between kiwi, watermelon, and pear.
Only the flesh of the dragon fruit is eaten, and this is normally scooped away from the skin using a spoon. Dragon fruit is normally eaten raw, although it is firm enough to be grilled like other fruits such as pineapple.
Dragon fruit is packed full of nutritional benefits. It is a low-calorie, high-fiber snack that contains high levels of several antioxidants. These protect against cell damage and reduce inflammation.
If you’re more interested in the health benefits of dragon fruit instead of the fruit itself, read our article about the best dragon fruit powders.
How Long Does Dragon Fruit Last?
How long dragon fruit lasts depends on how ripe it is. Perfectly ripe dragon fruit will last for just 2-3 days at normal room temperature. In a warm climate, they may start to turn bad within a day or two.
This time can be extended by storing the dragon fruit at cooler temperatures. Ripe dragon fruit can be stored for up to three weeks in the refrigerator, or a year in the freezer.
If you’ve purchased an unripe dragon fruit, you will need to leave it at room temperature to ripen.
How long this takes depends on what stage of ripeness the fruit was at when you bought it. It is a good idea to check it daily, as there is only a short window of opportunity to eat a dragon fruit at optimum ripeness!
What Is The Best Way To Store Dragon Fruit?
Working out the best way to store and ripen dragon fruit is a bit of a mystery to many people. When eaten at peak ripeness, dragon fruit is a succulent and sweet snack that is packed full of flavor.
Eat it before it is ripe though, and you’ll be highly disappointed with the watery and insipid flavor of the fruit.
So, how do you store dragon fruit to keep it in optimum condition?
The trick here is being able to tell the difference between a ripe and unripe dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit is normally harvested before it is ripe, and will gradually ripen on its journey to the grocery store or market.
Like most fruits, dragon fruit ripens quicker in warm conditions. This means that where they are stored will greatly affect the rate at which they ripen.
Unripe dragon fruit will be firm to the touch, and the color of the skin may still have a greenish tinge. If you cut into a dragon fruit that is not ripe, the flesh will taste sour and bland.
Luckily, there is just a few days’ difference between an unripe and ripe dragon fruit!
How To Tell If Dragon Fruit Is Ripe
If you haven’t cut into the fruit, just sit it in the fruit bowl at room temperature and check it daily. Once the skin has a slight ‘give’ when pressed and is a deep red or yellow color, it is ready to eat.
If you’ve cut into an unripe dragon fruit, this is a bit trickier. You need to keep the cut surface protected from air and flies, whilst also keeping the fruit in a warm place to allow it to ripen.
The best solution is to cover the fruit with plastic wrap and place it on a plate on the kitchen counter. You may find that it is necessary to trim away the cut surface before eating the fruit.
Peak ripeness in a dragon fruit only lasts for two or three days at room temperature. After this, it will start to turn bad, and you will need to keep it chilled or frozen to prevent it from rotting.
Once you cut into a dragon fruit, the flesh will be exposed to air and the deterioration of your fruit will be greatly accelerated.
Watch this video by Chef Buck on YouTube to learn how to eat dragon fruit.
How To Store Cut Dragon Fruit
When you cut into a fresh, ripe dragon fruit, it may be the case that you don’t want to eat it all at once. This delectable fruit is something to be savored, and you may well want to enjoy it over a few days once it is ripe.
Cut dragon fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, greatly extending the shelf life of this delicious snack.
However, there are a few essential precautions to take that will keep your cut dragon fruit in the best possible condition.
Firstly, the cut surface will be prone to rotting if it is exposed to air. Seal it inside a Ziplock bag, airtight container, or plastic wrap to keep it fresh and delicious.
Dragon fruit will also absorb flavors and odors from other strong foods in your fridge. Store it well away from meats, cheeses, and highly flavored foods.
Cut dragon fruit can either be stored in the fridge with the skin still on, or can be removed from the skin altogether.
A handy way to store cut dragon fruit is to dice the flesh into one-inch cubes and place them in an airtight container. This means that you can enjoy a bite or two of dragon fruit, any time you like!
Can You Freeze Dragon Fruit?
If you’ve got a glut of dragon fruit on your hands (lucky you!) then it can be a struggle to eat it all before it turns bad. But can you freeze dragon fruit, or is it a bad idea?
The good news is that dragon fruit can be frozen and kept for up to 12 months in the freezer.
Whole dragon fruits do not freeze well, so it is a good idea to cut them in half and scoop out the flesh into an airtight tub for the freezer.
The bad news is that when dragon fruit thaws, it becomes soft and mushy due to the high water content. So it won’t be very appetizing in a fresh fruit salad, but it will be great for smoothies and desserts!
How To Tell If Dragon Fruit Has Gone Bad
Unfortunately, once dragon fruit is ripe you have a relatively small window of opportunity to consume it. Ripe dragon fruit does not last very long, and will soon start to turn bad.
However, if you like to live life on the edge, you might want to try eating a piece of dragon fruit that is very ripe and almost starting to turn bad.
This might sound crazy, but at this stage, the fruit will be at its very sweetest and most succulent!
But leave it too long, and you’ve got a dragon fruit that is starting to rot on your hands.
Here are some tell-tale signs that your dragon fruit has started to turn bad:
The Skin Of The Dragon Fruit Is Splitting
Initially, you might see some small cracks in the outer skin of the dragon fruit, which means it has reached peak ripeness. Once these splits widen and you can see through to the flesh, it has definitely gone bad.
As soon as the flesh of dragon fruit is exposed to air, it will start to rot very quickly.
The skin of a dragon fruit should be a bright, even color, with darker greenish scales. If areas of the skin start to fade or develop darker spots, it has started to turn bad.
Unripe or perfectly ripe dragon fruit will smell very little at all. However, when it starts to turn bad, you will be able to detect a characteristic rotting smell.
Changes In Texture
Dragon fruit flesh should be firm and juicy to the touch. If it has started to turn bad, it will be mushy and fall apart easily when touched.