I thoroughly enjoy tasting and experience new foods, especially fruits from around the world. One of my favorite fruits is the Rambutan.
Don’t let its appearance fool you. Yes, yes, I know it kind of looks like a Coronavirus cell. Don’t be afraid! It is one amazing fruit. They also kind of remind me of the American Sweetgum tree spiky balls that fall to the ground. As kids, we would throw them at each other, haha. Also, they look like a sea urchin.
In this article I will share information where the Rambutan comes from and where it grows. I will also list some of the health benefits, show you how to eat it, and describe what they taste like to me.
Time to dive into the wonderful world of the Rambutan!
Where does the Rambutan come from and where does it grow?
The Rambutan is part of the Sapindaceae family of flowering plants in the soapberry family of fruits. The lychee and longan are other fruits that belong to that same family and are related to the Rambutan. Three trees can grow really high up to 80 feet.
It is native to Southeast Asia and widely cultivated in places like Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, etc. This fruit was my second favorite fruit behind the Mango when I was living in the Philippines. I had an opportunity to live there for a couple years in the late 1990’s.
The Rambutan also grows in some areas of East Africa, India, and South America. In the United States, the best places to try and grow them would be Florida, some parts of California, and Hawaii. They would do well in Puerto Rico as well.
Here in Phoenix, I usually can only find them at my local Asian Supermarket.
What are the health benefits?
The Rambutan is a very nutritious fruit. Here are a few of the health benefits:
- Rich in nutrients and antioxidants
- High in fiber, about the same amount of fiber that would be found in an apple, pear, etc.
- Rich in Vitamin C. 5 to 6 Rambutans will give you about 50% of your daily Vitamin C requirement.
- High in copper and small amounts of manganese, potassium, iron, zinc
- Promotes healthy digestion
- Relatively low in calories for the amount of fiber
To read more about the health benefits visit this healtline.com article.
How to eat a rambutan?
This fruit is very easy to eat. The classic variety of Rambutan will be bright to dark read when it is ripe. If they are black or have black hairs they are overripe. In the picture above you can see a few overripe ones.
Wash the fruit and then there are a few ways to open them. Some people will just bite into it to crack the skin and then open them up. Or other people will use their fingers to crack them open. I usually just run a knife around the middle of it. I don’t like putting the hairy skin in my mouth, haha.
Now you can just bite into the ball of white flesh that is in the middle. It will have a pit/seed in the middle, that you should spit out.
Typically eaten fresh, it can also be added to fruit salads, curries, and desserts like ice cream and sorbets.
What does Rambutan taste like?
When you first look at it, it reminds me of a large skinless grape. Taste is subjective, but to me, they are very sweet sometimes with a hint of sourness. There is also a note of floral tropical taste to it.
The texture is kind of like a mix between a grape and a pear or maybe a cherry. It is soft and easy to eat. Sometimes a bit of the skin falls off the seed, and it has a woody taste.
They do taste similar to a lychee. Which makes sense because they are in the same family of fruits.
It is so yummy. Definitely worth trying if you have never tried one. They are fairly cheap depending on where you live. I can usually get 20 to 25 of them for around $3.00.
Watch the video review of the Rambutan
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