Can Dragon Fruit Smell Really Bad?

The dragon fruit (also known as pitaya) has a very specific taste. The unique smell, on the other hand, is a little-known aspect of this tropical delicacy. It’s not as bad as you might think: dragon fruit does not have a strong smell at all.

A ripened dragon fruit has a subtle herbal, sweet kiwi-like smell with floral undertones. The light, refreshingly fruity odor is considered pleasant by the majority of people.

Dragon fruit will only smell bad when it’s starting to rot. Rotting dragon fruit smells sour, tart, unpleasant, and downright rancid. The odor of rotting fruit is very strong and can quickly fill up the room. Which makes it all the more interesting for unripe dragon fruit to have no smell at all.


What Should Dragon Fruit Smell Like?

Different than a notoriously bad-smelling fruit like durian, the dragon fruit should smell like a pleasant mix between kiwi, banana, caramel, and honey. It should have a subtle and friendly herbal smell. Unripe dragon fruit should have no smell at all.

As long as the fruits aren’t stored excessively long, there will be no detectable foul smells coming from them. On average, uncut dragon fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

After that time period, the fruit will no longer be edible and will slowly start showing signs of decay. A bad smell is one of the last signs that your (already rotting) pitaya is no longer edible. But before that moment, the odor coming off of the ripe fruit is actually a quite pleasant smell.


Unripe Dragon Fruit

Somewhat unique for tropical, juicy dragon fruit is the complete lack of odor when it is still unripe. When the flesh still has a rather tough and hard consistency and sour flavor, it is likely that no smell at all will be emitted by the fruit.

When the peel is still green, it will be hard and nearly impossible to cut. This is when the odor is practically non-existent. But the lack of smell is also simply a key characteristic of the pitaya itself. This is especially true for the commonly found pink-white variety.


Ripe Dragon Fruit

To get the most out of the dragon fruit flavor experience and to achieve the most intense smell, wait for the dragon fruit to ripen completely. This article will help you recognize when a dragon fruit has ripened.

Putting your nose near a ripe pitaya will be a positive experience for most. Both the flavor and the smell are very mild in nature.

The common white variety will have a rather bland odor. For the sweeter and more flavorful red and yellow dragon fruit varieties, the herbal, kiwi-like odor is more noticeable. Especially when compared to the relatively neutral white dragon fruit.


Old Dragon Fruit

The only time a dragon fruit will smell really bad is when it has gone bad. Foul-smelling dragon fruit is already in the final stages of rot. it will have an unpleasant sour, tart, and downright rancid odor.

At this stage, it will be laced with mold and is starting to attract pests. Make sure to dispose of the rotting fruit by putting it in a closed plastic garbage bag. Don’t touch the fruit directly, but use disposable gloves or thick disposable paper towels. Make sure to thoroughly clean afterward.


Why Dragon Fruit Is Mostly Odorless

When humans smell something, our nose picks up molecules from our direct environment. These molecules are often emitted by fruit in the form of volatile chemicals, which to us will indicate ripeness.

In this context, volatile basically means that the fruit emits specific molecules when it is ripe. Some fruits do this more than others. The dragon fruit barely emits any volatile chemicals into the air, making it mostly odorless (even when ripe).

Only when ripeness has exceeded a certain threshold and the fruit is starting to visibly rot, the bad smell will start to emerge. It’s nothing like a durian, where a stinky odor is emitted even when the fruit is still edible.


Only Rotting Dragon Fruit Smells Bad

People that are unfamiliar with the taste and smell of dragon fruit don’t need to worry. Odor barely plays any role in its entire lifespan. As explained, only the severely rotting pitaya will eventually start to smell bad.

We wholeheartedly encourage you to experiment with this wonderful tropical fruit. Try the stronger-smelling red or yellow dragon fruit, and don’t be afraid to smell them. They have a wonderful fruity odor, and are very healthy to eat.

If you’re worried your dragon fruit doesn’t ‘smell like anything’, rest assured. This is normal and natural, and is part of the usual characteristics of this unique cactus fruit species. Make sure to give it an honest chance and enjoy its many benefits!