What's in Season at the Farmers Markets: Dragon Fruit | Squid Ink | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
Loading...
Farmers Markets

What's in Season at the Farmers Markets: Dragon Fruit

Comments (0)

By

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge F. FRIESEMA
  • F. Friesema
Dragon fruit is so aptly named. The baseball-sized fruit is covered in long, lime-green, fleshy scales that ripple out from a dark red core. Open one up and you stain your hands magenta from the nearly fluorescent flesh dotted with tiny black seeds. Asia has long grown dragon fruit -- also known as pitaya -- by the ton, selling it whole or in bright red juice bottles at night markets, pre-chilled for hot summers.

This Asian sensation is actually local, in L.A. terms at least. It's native to Mexico and points south, and made its way to the other side of the Pacific during the colonial centuries on European ships exploring Southeast Asia. It only started to gain a commercial foothold in the United States in the last decade, and thanks to Pedro's Avocado Ranch out in Fallbrook, we can get certified organic dragon fruit at more than 30 farmers markets throughout the L.A. area.

click to enlarge F. FRIESEMA
  • F. Friesema
Richard Dominguez, who mans the Pedro's booth at the Hollywood market, says there are a few ways to pick dragon fruit.

"We try to pick them fresh so we don't have a lot of fully ripe ones available on market days," says Dominguez. "The ripe ones we do bring go pretty quickly. But they're almost all pretty much like this, a little hard and the color a littler paler. Let them sit out for a couple of days to get soft on the outside and the skin will go a darker red."

Dominguez adds the darker the red, the sweeter the fruit. He says a lot of his customers juice it -- "lots of Vitamin C" -- but he recommends chilling it in the fridge and just scooping it out with a spoon. We set ours out on the counter for a couple of days as advised. Once ripe, into the fridge it went. Scooping the cold fruit was easy but it still had a slight crunch and was the perfect summer dessert after a long, hot day.

Dragon fruit isn't punch-you-in-the-mouth sweet. It's more like a juicy kiwi or pear with the fresh wetness of cactus. Appropriate, since the fruit is borne along trailing, spiny limbs that climb easily on trellises. The flowers open only at night, which makes them dependent on moths and bats to pollinate them. Given the piles of fruit we saw at Pedro's this past Sunday, we don't think that's a problem. The farm out in Fallbrook, which also produces mountains of avocados, persimmons and pomegranates, is host to a wide variety of wildlife, nocturnal and otherwise.

You can find Pedro's dragon fruit at the farmers markets in Silver Lake (both Tuesday and Saturday), Torrance (both Tuesday and Saturday), Sherman Oaks, Barnsdall, Santa Monica (both Wednesday and Sunday), Glendale, Long Beach Uptown, El Segundo, Hermosa, Huntington and Redondo Beach, Calabasas, Downey, Montrose and many many others. Visit Pedro's website for a complete listing.

Related Location

Related Content

Now Trending

  • California Thursdays Brings Fresh Local Produce to Schoolkids

    Nearly 1 million students in California, including in Los Angeles, will be test subjects for an experimental school food approach – feeding them freshly prepared, locally grown foods. It’s part of a statewide pilot program called California Thursdays that seeks to do something audacious – serve California food to California...
  • Pastry Chef Melts Chocolate on His Day Off

    Alex de Leon first arrived from Tijuana at age 14. A decade later, at the ridiculously young age of 24, he runs the pastry program for a trio of stylish and very successful eastside spots — L&E Oyster Bar, Bar Covell, and the newly-opened El Condor. We met in the...
    2
  • BAM Fest Unites Craft Beer and Art This Sunday

    This Sunday, Oct. 26, from 1-5 p.m. is the 5th annual Santa Monica BAM Fest for beer, art and music. The festival is a celebration and benefit for the 18th Street Arts Center, a non-profit organization that has spent the last 25 years offering artist Residency Programs and engaging the...