2007_07_dragonfruit.jpgBetter known for the pinkish Vitamin Water flavor based on it, fresh dragon fruit is currently available at Chinatown produce markets. Because dragon fruit (pitaya plant) pollination occurs only at night, when its huge white flowers bloom, fruit is harvested just a few times a year. Production is notoriously tricky, sometimes requiring a little human-dragon fruit “husbandry.” And while buying food that was jetted at least a few thousand miles to be sold out of a crate on the streets of New York is sort of the antithesis of eating locally, growing one’s own dragon fruit at home is an epic, but still entirely possible, task (see green-shaded area here). Each fruit contains about one thousand seeds that can be used for home-growing experiments. So for the sake of New York needing more crazy fruit pioneers, let’s talk dragon fruit for a minute.

Ripe dragon fruit should scoop from the peel pretty easily with an ordinary teaspoon. No cooking is required, but the breadth of flavors match the range of the fruit’s varieties, from acrid and not very good, to fragrant and tropical- like a cross between a rose and a kiwi- so you might want to cook your dragon fruit. Most Chinatown produce stalls sell white fleshed dragon fruit for $3.99 a pound; often-sweeter red fleshed ones go for $6.99- the softball-sized one above went for $6.50. If you want to get all fancy, you can make a dragon fruit-sake granita by adding the scooped insides of one fruit and the juice of half a lime to a small amount of hot simple syrup (sugar and water, boiled). If you’re not going to try growing your own in your studio apartment, leave in the tiny black seeds that pepper the fruit. They may be indigestible, but they sure are crunchy.

After it has cooled, puree and freeze the fruit mixture in an ice cube tray. Remove “dragon fruit ice cubes” from freezer and blend with some cheap sake to taste; the mixture should resemble a slushy, frozen daiquiri (albeit one with black sesame seeds). Return mixture to ice cube tray and refreeze, agitating with a fork every half hour for about 2 hours, so the mixture solidifies but doesn’t block into cubes. Scoop, serve, and impress your friends and neighbors with this palette cleanser, even if you’re not having a full meal.