With fuchsia-pink skin and green scales, the dragon fruit is unlike anything else in its appearance.
And Bristol Fruit Sales, which is selling the fruit wholesale for the very first time, says it has proving a roaring success with customers.
When the exotic-looking fruit is cut in half it reveals an opaque white flesh dotted with small black seeds.
The unusual looking and pretty skin resembles a flower and is inedible. To eat the fruit, the slightly sweet flesh, which is low in calories, high in vitamin C and a good source of calcium, is scooped out.
David Foster, sales manager at Bristol Fruit Sales, at the Fruit Market in Albert Crescent, St Philip’s, said: “It’s been around since the 13th century and a product that has been grown and sold for many years now.
“Before we would get it in by request on special order and air-freight, taking about three or four days.
“We would sell 10 boxes containing 10 fruits a fortnight.
“Now we have done a deal with a Vietnamese co-operative and our first order of 1,260 boxes, containing 10 fruits each, sold within a day. It was really fantastic.
“They are a very versatile fruit. You can use them in salads, they make great sorbets, they are great served with other fruits – some people scoop them out and stuff the skins with a mix of fruit including the flesh. You can even ferment them to make alcohol, which isn’t as healthy, but tastes lovely.
“The world is changing the way we eat – celebrity chefs and cooking programmes use much more unusual ingredients. It’s a healthy, versatile and unusual fresh fruit and we are happy to be promoting that.
“We have sold them mainly to independents, so they will probably retail at about £1.29 each.”
Kate Odey, 50, from central Bristol, sampled the fruit and said: “It’s a bit like melon. It’s very refreshing.
“It’s got a bit too many pips for my liking. I could eat it but don’t know if I would go out and buy it.”
Native to Mexico and Central and South America, the dragon fruit is also cultivated in south-east Asian countries, such as Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
They are also found in Okinawa, Israel, northern Australia and southern China. Also known as the strawberry pear, pitaya or pitahaya, it is the fruit of several species of cactus. Other varieties come with a yellow skin or can have a red flesh with black seeds.
The flowers of the cactus are large and fragrant and only bloom at night.
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