How To Tell If Dragon Fruit Is Ripe Or Bad? (Storage Tips)


Dragon fruits have the best taste and texture when properly ripe, just like avocados. However, like with most fruits, the time difference between perfectly ripe and overripe isn’t long. In this article, I’ll walk you through how to spot ripe and bad dragon fruits, how to store them to maximize their lifespan, and more.

How to Tell If Dragon Fruit Is Ripe?

Pitayas, more well known as dragon fruits, have a sweet taste, although the flavors vary between dragon fruit varieties. Dragon fruits aren’t cheap either, far from it, so I’m sure you want the best taste and texture experience from your fruit. Now, how do you know when a dragon fruit is ripe?

Dragon fruit is ripe when the skin color is pink or yellow, depending on the variety instead of green. Splitting your dragon fruit to examine whether it looks healthy and isn’t brown means it’s ripe. You can also gently press the fruit, and if it’s slightly soft instead of hard, it’s ready.

There are many ways to see if a dragon fruit is unripe, ripe, or overripe. Naturally, you want to aim for ripe because unripe isn’t just pleasant to eat, like a hard avocado. Similarly, think about an overripe avocado that has started to turn dark brown, and the texture is mushy; it’s the same for dragon fruit.

Now, take a closer look at the steps you can use to see if your pitaya is perfectly mature.

1. Look Your Dragon Fruit for Ripeness

Looking at the dragon fruit is a good way to determine its ripeness. Generally, there are three things you can look at;

  • Look at the skin color: A ripe dragon fruit has a color-rich red or yellow color, depending on the variety. If the color is green or greenish-reddish, the fruit isn’t ripe yet. The vast majority of dragon fruits in stores and markets have pink skin.
  • Look at the leaves: By looking at the leaves or wings that point out from the dragon fruit, you can see its ripeness. When they start to wither and dry out, the fruit is ripe. However, if they are green, hard, and well, the chances are the pitaya isn’t ripe yet.
  • Look at the flesh: Another way to know if a pitaya is ripe is to cut it in half and look at the pulp, flesh, or the white part. The flesh is white, pink, or purple with small black seeds depending on the variety. The pulp is firm and juicy if the dragon fruit is ripe, not unripe rock hard or overripe mushy.

2. Feel Your Dragon Fruit for Ripeness

My favorite way to determine if a pitahaya is ripe is by feeling it with a dash of looking at its appearance. Similarly to looking, there are three things you can feel on a dragon fruit to see its ripeness and quality;

  • Gently press the dragon fruit: Generally, the best way to know if your dragon fruit is ripe is to grab it and feel it with your fingers, gently pushing it. If the flesh gives slightly and you can feel slightly soft, the pitaya is perfectly ripe. If it doesen’t give at all and is hard, it’s unripe, or worse, if it feels soft and mushy, it’s overripe.
  • Feel the dragon fruit’s stems: I already explained what to look for in the leafy parts when determining whether it’s ripe. Feel the leaves and see whether they feel healthy or overly weak. If they are completely dry and weak, the fruit is overripe.
  • Feel the dragon fruit’s skin: Take the dragon fruit in your hand and feel it all over. If you notice any cracks, dents, drastic impurities, or other damage, you shouldn’t buy it. Long transportation journeys and the overall delicate body of dragon fruits make them prone to damage if dropped or mistreated otherwise.

3. Harvest Your Dragon Fruit at the Right Time

I decided to add this little bonus tip at the end, although it isn’t relevant to most people as most of us aren’t growing our dragon fruit. However, if you are, there’s a way to know if a dragon fruit is ripe when harvesting.

You can tell if a dragon fruit is ripe before harvesting when its color has turned from green to red or yellow, depending on the variety and the darkening of the leaves of the fruit.

If you are growing and harvesting pitaya just for yourself, it’s fine to pick them the day they are most ripe. Generally, dragon fruits are ripe 27 to 33 days after the plant flowers, so be sure to mark your calendar.

However, if you’re harvesting large amounts for transportation, you need to harvest them slightly sooner than their best ripeness because they will ripen on the way as well.

How to Tell If Dragon Fruit Is Bad?

Now you know many ways to check the ripeness of dragon fruit, pitaya, pitahaya, or whatever you want to call it. Now, when fruit becomes bad, meaning way overripe, it’s usually days past its optimal ripeness. How can you know if the fruit has gone bad instead of ripe?

If a dragon fruit has turned bad, it has a dark skin that has turned loose. The leaves are dark and withered, in addition to the fruit’s flesh being brow, grey, or even black instead of clear white or red. Also, deformities, cuts, dents, and an overly soft feel are indicators that the fruit isn’t fresh.

When you compare a dragon fruit that you suspect is bad, think about a fresh one that looks healthy with a bursting pink or yellow skin and flawless white pulp with clearly noticeable black dots. The skin should be smooth without too many imperfections. Does the fruit look more like that or a darkened, deformed, sad dragon fruit? If it’s the latter, the fruit has rotten or gone bad.

Another do tell about a rotten pitaya is its odor. Unripe or a ripe dragon fruit shouldn’t smell practically anything, as it’s quite odorless. However, it has turned bad if you notice a strong rotten fruit smell.

What Happens If You Eat a Bad Dragon Fruit?

Èating spoiled food isn’t ever good as you’re most likely to get a tummy ache at the least. Some foods are more dangerous to eat spoiled whereas others, not so much. So what happens if you eat a spoiled pitaya?

In general, nothing will happen if you eat a bad dragon fruit. If you eat particularly rotten or moldy dragon fruit, you could get sick, causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other food poisoning symptoms.

If you don’t wish to enjoy rotten fruits, you don’t have much to worry about. Believe me, you will notice a severely rotten dragon fruit that could cause sickness, so you won’t be in a position to eat it by accident.

If you eat slightly overripe dragon fruit between overripe and rotten, you might get slight tummy aches but nothing dangerous to your health. Revisit the steps above on how to see if a dragon fruit is ripe and not bad, and you will be good.

How to Store Dragon Fruit?

Storing any fruit the right way is important, but I’d say that it’s even more important to store pitayas well as they are so expensive and hard to grow. Luckily, we live in a modern time with knowledge and technology, so it’s easy. Here’s how;

To increase dragon fruit’s lifespan, store it in an airtight container or plastic bag and place it in the refrigerator. Dragon fruits can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator, whereas only 2 to 3 days on the counter at room temperature.

Of course, you don’t want to stall the ripening process in a fridge if you plan to eat the dragon fruits within a couple of days. If you still don’t have plans for your pitayas, then it’s smart to place them in the fridge so you can significantly prolong their lifespan.

Another important thing to acknowledge is that untouched pitayas last far longer than processed ones. So, if you want to store your dragon fruits long period, don’t damage or cut them anyway.

However, if you want to store them after cutting or have already cut them and didn’t know they spoil faster that way, there are methods to increase their life span.

If you wish to store cut dragon fruit, place them in a resealable bag or another airtight container. In addition, it’s important to line the bottom of your container or edges of your resealable container with paper towels. Paper towels help soak excess juices that will be removed from the dragon fruit pieces, slowing down spoilage and mold growth.

To recap, here’s what to remember to maximize the lifespan of pitayas;

  • Keep pitayas in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t cut the pitayas in any way.
  • Store pitayas in an airtight container such as sealed bags or food containers.
  • Don’t keep pitayas near ethylene-producing food such as avocados or bananas.

Can You Freeze Dragon Fruit?

Most fruits and ingredients can be frozen; however, things such as cucumbers won’t be any good after defrosting. Given that dragon fruits are so expensive, you don’t want to take any chances of trying them out. So, can you freeze dragon fruits, or will it ruin them?

Generally, you can freeze dragon fruit, and it will prevent it from spoiling. However, the taste and texture won’t be the same after defrosting, so you should only freeze dragon fruit if you plan to make smoothies, add it to a salad, or eat it chilled.

If you want to store dragon fruit long term, freezing is the perfect option for it. However, the steps aren’t so simple that you could put whole dragon fruits in the freezer or cube them and place them straight in a bag. Let’s take a quick look at how to freeze pitayas, meaning dragon fruits properly;

  1. Process the Dragon Fruit: Before anything, you need to cut the dragon fruit into pieces. Don’t freeze whole pitayas because their quality will decrease too much. Also, wash the dragon fruit first so any dirt won’t mix with the slices or cubes.
  2. Lay the Dragon Fruit Prices on a Tray: When you have dragon fruit pieces ready, lay parchment paper on a tray and place the pieces on it so that they won’t touch each other. If you skip this step, the pieces will become one in the freezer, and you can’t conveniently take the desired amount of fruit.
  3. Freeze the Dragon Fruit Pieces: Now, place the tray in a freezer and keep it there overnight, so they are completely frozen. They might be ready after three hours of freezing, so monitor them if you’re in a hurry.
  4. Transfer the Frozen Dragon Fruit Prices to a Bag: When the dragon fruit pieces are completely frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer bag, plastic container, or another freezer-safe container.

Here You’ll Find My Favorite Kitchen Equipment.

Thanks for reading this article! I hope that it brought you real value that you can benefit from in your personal life! Here is my top kitchen equipment that I seriously couldn’t live without, and I think they could ease your life as well as they do mine.

  • Knife set: As a chef, I can’t stand dull, poor-quality knives without any design. My absolute favorite kitchen knife set is the Gangshan 3-Piece Knife Set. It comes with a handcrafted 8″ chef’s knife and a 3.5″ paring knife. What I love even more than these flawless knives is the walnut knife block which is incredible and unique.
  • Skillet: In addition to knives and my unwillingness to bargain with its quality is the cookware. My favorite skillet is Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet. This particular skillet is 9″ in size, it is heavy, it gets very hot, which is what is required to get a good sear, and it is just beautiful, as are all Le Creuset products. Le Creuset doesn’t need an introduction as a brand, as it is one of the world’s rated brands.
  • Food processor: I remember when I hadn’t a food processor at home. It wasn’t easy! But now, when I use my Ninja BN601 Food Processor, I can make anything super fast, which saves me many hours per week. This food processor has 1000 watts of power and four options, including chopping, slicing, dough, and purees. I also like the middle-sized 9cup (2.1l) bowl as it is big enough yet not too big to look unfitting in my kitchen.
  • Tweezers: Dalstrong Professional Cooking Tweezers are like tongs but much more elegant, thin, and easy to use. They are great for virtually anything, but flipping, turning, and grabbing with them is easy and makes cooking much more fun! These Dalstrgon tongs are titanium coated and very durable. Also, I like the black color instead of the everyday steel.

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Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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