The origin of snake fruit, also known as salak, can be traced back to Indonesia. However, snake fruits currently thrive in the tropical climate of Southeast Asia.
In Southeast Asia, snake fruits are very popular, just as popular as bananas and apples. They are sold everywhere including supermarkets, and in the streets by street vendors. Most hotels offer snake fruit in their buffet breakfast.
I’ll be the first to admit that the first time I lay my eyes on snake fruit, the scaly skin frightened me a little bit. The size and shape of the snake fruit are similar to that of a fig.
It is covered with reddish-brown scales that sometimes have tiny spikes. The skin looks tough, but it is actually very thin. You can easily peel it off once you break the tip.
Once you peel the skin, you’ll see three light yellow or white lobes of juicy pulp. The pulp looks like peeled cloves of garlic and has an apple-like crunch.
However, this may vary depending on the varieties. Some varieties are succulent and spongy while others are dry with a flaky texture.
Snake fruits also have some brown seeds inside them. The seeds are not edible, so always discard them.
If you have never had a taste, you are probably wondering what snake fruit tastes like.
Worry not, this article will give you all the information you need about this exotic fruit. We’ll discuss the flavor, uses nutritional value, and so much more. Let’s dive in.
What does it taste like?
Snake fruits have an amazing tropical flavor that is both sweet and sour with a citrusy undertone.
You know that tingling feeling you have on your tongue after you eat pineapple?
Snake fruits have the same effect. I would simply describe the flavor of snake fruit as a combination of pineapple, apple, banana, and jackfruit.
In case you are not a huge fan of the astringent flavor, you can peel off the fine membrane that encases the fruit lobes.
Like ii mentioned earlier, the skin of snake fruit has reddish-brown scales that sometimes have tiny spikes. It is not edible. You can easily peel it off using your hands by pinching the top of the fruit.
The aroma of snake fruit varies depending on the variety. For instance, the Salak Pondoh has an aroma that is very similar to that of durian whereas the Salak Bali has a mild aroma that is hardly noticeable.
Snake fruits tend to have a foul smell when they are overripe, so do not let them over-ripen.
Snake fruit uses
In case you are wondering how to use your snake fruit, worry not. We have a few ideas that you can borrow. Here are a few ways you can enjoy your snake fruit.
- Eat them out of hand
This is the most popular way to enjoy snake fruits. They are very easy to peel. I have seen a few people dipping snake fruit into a mixture of salt and sugar before eating. I personally enjoy eating them on their own.
- Pickle them
You can pickle snake fruit. I love the complex flavor they have when pickled.
- Add them to your smoothie
Next time you are making a smoothie, add snake fruits to it. They will enhance the flavor of your smoothie.
- Make a jam
You can use snake fruit to make a sweet and tart jam. It is to die for!
- Add them to your fruit platter
Add snake fruit to your fruit platters for an exotic taste.
Where to buy snake fruit
If you live in Southeast Asia, you are in luck. You can buy snake fruit in any supermarket near you or from street vendors. They are usually available throughout the year.
In the United States, snake fruits are a little bit difficult to find. You can get them at Asian grocery stores or fruit stores that stock a wide range of exotic produce.
In case you don’t get them, you can try buying them online. There are a few vendors that sell them.
Are snake fruits nutritious?
Snake fruits are as nutritious as they are tasty.
They are packed with potassium and pectin. Indonesia locals call it the “Fruit of Memory” because they believe that the fruits are packed with nutrients that play a role in brain development.
Snake fruits also contain Vitamin C, Calcium, Thiamine, and Iron which are essential.
Interesting facts about snake fruit
- Indonesia locals warn people against eating too many snake fruits. When eaten in large quantities, the fruits tend to block the digestive system and cause constipation.
- Botanically, the snake frit is classified as Salacca zalacca. It belongs to the palm family also known as Arecaceae
- The snake fruit palm tree can grow up to 6 meters in height. Snake fruits grow in clusters on the base of the tree.
- There are approximately thirty different varieties of snake fruit. Some of them are very bitter and should be cooked before they are eaten.
- The skin of the snake fruit resembles that of a python hence its name. It is also scaly.
- When overripe, snake fruits become moist and have a foul smell. They should be discarded as soon as they become smelly.
Snake fruits may look a little bit scary, but trust me, the looks are deceiving. Once you peel off the scaly python-like skin, you are left with lobes of fruit that taste amazing.
From my personal observation, I have noted that kids who have not grown up eating snake fruits may not enjoy it as much. The flavor tends to be a bit extreme for them.
On the other hand, most adults enjoy this fruit since it is pretty much a combination of the apple, pineapple, jackfruit, and banana flavors.
Most say it is the perfect balance of a sweet and tart flavor. A few people find the astringency too much for their liking, but don’t let this discourage you.
Try the snake fruit today and let me know if you like it.