Dragon Fruits (Cost and Alternatives)

At some point, last year dragon fruit became the hot new influencer fruit. I kept seeing it all over my feed, those pretty white polka-dotted spheres on top of every artfully arranged smoothie bowl. Of course, I had to have it. It looks so cute and delicious! But as I quickly found, it comes at a high price.

How Much Does Dragon Fruit Cost?

The average cost of dragon fruit is $10 for each piece of fruit! If you too were startled by this price tag then read on, there are many reasons for the higher price but it boils down to one major point. So why is dragon fruit so expensive? 

It turns out that all that popularity is driving up the price! The demand in the US is higher than the supply, which leads to a higher price tag. As with most exotic fruits, it can be difficult to grow and does not have a long shelf life. In most cases, dragon fruit is imported.

If a product is harder to come by that usually makes us want it even more, especially when it is something as insta-worthy and healthy as dragonfruit. These challenges all contribute to the consistently high price of this unique fruit. 

Growing Dragon Fruit

If you had the sudden idea to make your first million with a lucrative dragon fruit farm, be sure to do your research first.

Dragon Fruit is not native to the United States. In the US it can only grow in certain parts of Southern Florida and California where the climate is right.

Recent extreme weather trends have no doubt impacted dragon fruit crops, contributing to the lack of supply.

Wildfires in California and hurricanes in Florida have destroyed many homegrown fruit crops in the last few years. We have become more dependent on imported fruit from other countries, especially when it comes to dragonfruit. 

Imported Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit is most often imported from South America and Vietnam. It is thought to have originated in South America. It became popular in Vietnam after the French brought it there over a century ago.

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on a dragon fruit before they sell out, it has most likely traveled a long way before making it to your local grocery store.

Imported goods are usually more costly due to the added expense involved in shipping, tariffs, and preservation techniques. 

Red Dragon Fruit

If the price doesn’t dash your smoothie-making dreams, you are not alone. Many people continue to scour their local grocery and specialty stores for dragon fruit varieties.

The fruit of this cactus is usually white with black seeds, but the skin on the outside can be quite different. 

The red dragon fruit is a bright magenta color with folds of skin that resemble scales, hence the dragon reference.

The red dragon fruit is usually white on the inside with black seeds. This is the most common variety and what you usually see all the pretty pictures of on Instagram and Pinterest.

One particular red variety, called the Sugar Dragon, is bright pink on the inside and the outside, making it one of the most coveted and hard-to-find varieties.

Some also claim that the Sugar Dragon is the sweetest and most delicious variety.

Red Dragon Fruit

In addition to taste, a smoothie bowl topped with both the white and pink variety can be quite stunning. If you can get your hands on both colors you are in for a remarkably beautiful treat!

Yellow Dragon Fruit

The yellow dragon fruit is the same oval shape but the yellow skin is less scale-like and more closely resembles a yellow mango, also known as Ataulfo.

The yellow variety does sometimes have thorns on the outside, so you should be careful when removing the skin. There is some debate over which variety of dragon fruit is the best or the sweetest.

The yellow dragon fruit will always have white flesh, and some claim the yellow is sweeter than the red.

The two main varieties of yellow dragon fruit are sometimes referred to as Yellow Dragon and Columbiana.

Dragon Fruit Taste

Despite its popularity, there are some who think that dragon fruit tastes like nothing. They have taken to the internet to lament that they spent all that money on some bland, boring fruit.

Unfortunately, these folks should have been more patient before enjoying their exotic dragon fruit. It is important to let dragonfruit fully ripen before you eat it. The taste will be worth the wait.

When you eat your dragonfruit at the right time it is like a cross between a sweet, syrupy pear, a juicy melon, and a tart kiwi.

If it tastes like nothing then you will know that you cut into it too soon, but all is not lost. The texture of dragon fruit can still provide your smoothie with a creaminess that is unmatched. 

How Can You Tell When Dragon Fruit Is Ripe? 

The outside should be vibrant red or yellow, but you will need to give the fruit a soft squeeze to really see if it is ready. The dragonfruit should be a little bit soft when fully ripe, similar to a ripe avocado.

And just like the avocado, you don’t want to miss the sweet spot. Dragon Fruit can go from perfect to putrid very quickly!

When too soft the fruit has gone bad and will taste like bitter mush. The distinctive scales on the outside can also provide a clue that your dragon fruit is ripe.

The scales will start to brown at the ends when the fruit is ripe. If the scales are still brightly colored all the way through then the fruit is most likely not ready to be consumed.

Dragon Fruit Benefits

Not only is dragon fruit photogenic and delicious, but it also scores major points in the health category! Dragon Fruit is a great source of dietary fiber.

A diet high in fiber is beneficial for weight loss because it can help you feel full for longer. Fiber can also improve your digestion overall and help to lower blood sugar levels.

Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit has less sugar content and fewer carbs than most fruits, especially when compared to other exotic fruits like mango and pineapple.

This makes it popular among those following the latest ketogenic diet trend.

Vitamins

Dragon Fruit is not just good for those who are trying to shed weight. The fruit is packed with Vitamin C, which will help bolster your immune system, and protect your skin and blood vessels.

Dragon Fruit is also full of Vitamin E, which will give you glowing youthful skin. It is also rich in Magnesium, Vitamin A, and Calcium. That’s quite an impressive resume for this little fruit!

Antioxidants And Immune System 

Like most brightly colored fruits, dragon fruit is a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help defend your body against free radicals that can contribute to the development of cancer.

Antioxidants also help reduce harmful inflammation in the body. Dragon Fruit has also been shown to have a positive effect on gut health due to the prebiotic fiber in the fruit.

With all these benefits it’s no wonder that people are willing to pay a little extra for this awesome fruit. 

Are There Cheaper Alternatives To Dragon Fruit? 

Unfortunately for us, dragonfruit is pretty one of a kind when it comes to aesthetics. You won’t find another fruit with that same stylish polka-dotted flesh.

People often buy it for the experience of slicing through the bright pink scales to reveal the perfectly white center filled with tiny black seeds.

You can’t get quite the same visual effect from any other fruit, but when it comes to taste you can definitely find good substitutes. 

Dragon Fruit Substitutes

Melon gives a similar pleasant mildness that is refreshing. One watermelon or honeydew will give you about five times the amount of fruit for a third of the price. The average price of Dragonfruit is $10 per piece of fruit!

In comparison, the honeydew melon will cost $3-4 on average. Watermelon is even cheaper at 38 cents per pound, so you could five pounds of fruit for just under $2!

If you are looking to replicate the texture, kiwi comes the closest because of its similar edible black seeds.

Kiwi is also quite attractive when cut in half. Kiwi will cost only 25-75 cents per piece of fruit. 

A ripe pear will be as juicy as dragonfruit, and mango will give your fruit salad a cheaper exotic flair. Pears and mangos are usually around $1.50 per pound. 

So Is Dragon Fruit Really Worth The Hype? 

That’s up to you to decide. In my opinion, the special fruit is a mini investment but worth a try because of how unique it really is.

One thing is for sure, the glamorous dragon fruit is likely to continue showing up on our social media feeds for as long as we can get our hands on it, if only for the fact that there is nothing else that looks quite like it!

If you didn’t take a picture of your smoothie bowl, did you even have one? According to the internet, that’s a big no.

The huge spike in health-conscious influencers and vegan recipe blogs is sure to keep this trend going for some time. As long as demand exceeds the supply you can bet that the cost of dragon fruit will remain sky high!

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