Rambutan is an exotic tropical fruit that thrives in warm climates.
When in season, you can spot them in street markets in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
In terms of appearance, they are very unique. They are bright red in color with spikes that look spiky but are actually very soft.
If you have never tried rambutan before, you may be wondering what it tastes like. This article will give you all the information you need to know.
We will discuss the flavor, varieties, uses, storage, how to choose the best ones, interesting facts, and so much more.
Let’s dive in.
Simply put, rambutan is a combination of sweet and sour flavors. It also has a floral undertone.
The flavor of rambutan is very similar to longan, lychee, and grape, but it is less sweet.
Rambutan generally has a natural sweetness, but it varies depending on the variety you buy. You can also buy the canned version which is much sweeter because of the added sugar.
Although rambutan is covered in soft spines, peeling off the skin is very simple.
The flesh of rambutan has a somewhat chewy texture on the outside, but once you break into the flesh it is creamy, soft, and gelatinous. It is also very juicy.
Be sure not to eat the rambutan seed which is usually at the center. It has a bitter flavor that is unpleasant and you should therefore discard it.
This variety usually produces larger fruit that has have a lot of hair. The flesh is usually thick and juicy.
The seed of binjai is usually bigger than the ones found in other varieties.
Rapiah is very popular because of its crisp texture and small seed. If you want value for your money, I suggest you buy rapiah.
It arguably tastes even better compared to longan and lychee. Rapiah has little or no hair on it.
Antalagi is one of the sweet varieties. Its flesh is thick and is usually detached from the pit. Other noticeable characteristics are the strong aroma and short hair.
- Si nyonya
Compared to the other varieties, si nyonya is bitter. It is ideal for those who want a bitter kick to their food.
I personally find the sour taste overpowering, but the fruit is very juicy.
This variety is usually orange when ripe. Its yellow flesh has a gelatinous texture and is very sweet.
Where to buy rambutan
Rambutan is readily available in Southeast Asia.
If you live in the United States, finding a store that sells rambutan can be a big challenge.
You are likely to get them at Asian grocery stores or online. I have come across a few reputable vendors that stock them.
Choosing the best rambutan
You will only enjoy rambutan if you choose the best ones, and I’m here to give you a few tips on how to go about it.
Go for fruits that have vibrant red skin. If there are none, you can choose the red ones that have a hint of yellow or orange.
Be on the lookout for overripe rambutan and avoid them. They usually have black spines. You should also avoid unripe rambutan that is normally green in color.
How to store rambutan
I do not recommend storing rambutan for too long. Their flavor tends to diminish rather quickly.
If you want to increase the lifespan of rambutan, store them in a perforated plastic bag. You can store the bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Do not peel rambutan skin before storing them.
Rambutan has several culinary uses. Here are a few of them.
- Eat them out of hand
This is actually the best way to enjoy rambutan.
The best part about it is that rambutan skin peels off easily, the same way orang skin does.
It is important that you only peel off the skin when you are ready to eat it.
- Add them to desserts
Rambutan is an excellent addition to desserts. Stew the fruits with sugar and cloves and then add them to your pie.
Alternatively, use them to make tasty flavored ice cream.
- Add them to salads
You can add rambutan to tropical fruit salads for an enhanced flavor.
- Stuff with fresh pineapple
This is a very traditional way to enjoy rambutan. Simply peel and deseed the fruits and stuff them with fresh pineapple.
The two fruit flavors complement each other and they taste amazing.
- Use them in savory recipes
You can add rambutan to savory dishes including casseroles, stir fry dishes, and soups. Add them towards the end of your cooking for the best results.
Use rambutan to make chutney and jam. It provides an excellent, pleasant flavor.
Interesting facts about rambutan
- The rambutan tree is evergreen. It bears fruit twice a year and can grow up to 45 feet tall.
- In Malay, the word rambutan means hair. Rambutan got its name because it is covered with what looks like hair.
- Clothing manufacturers use rambutan skin to make black dye.
- Rambutan belongs to the Sapindaceae family and iots botanical name is Nephelium lappaceum. It is related to lychee and longan.
- Rambutan has numerous health benefits. It is high in fiber, vitamin C, and iron.
Rambutan is native to Malay Peninsula. Currently, it is grown in Central America, Hawaii, and other warm regions.
Rambutan is harvested twice every year and is readily available in markets. You can also get them on restaurant menus.
Unlike other exotic fruits that tend to have a wacky flavor, rambutan has a flavor that appeals to most people.
The variety of rambutan determines how it tastes, but most people describe the flavor as sweet and sour with floral undertones.
The flavor is similar to that of grape, longan, and lychee.
If you haven’t tried rambutan before you are missing out. Next time you see them, buy some and have a taste.
Let me know whether you will like the taste in the comments down below.