Friday, January 15, 2010


Maybe you've seen Rambutan before and wondered what it was... it looks a little bit creepy like a hairy spider or some type of cactus. It's actually a delicious fruit very similar in flavor and texture to grapes. Rambutan means "Hairy" in the Indonesian tongue.

I've been selling this fruit for 25 years and it's popularity is only overshadowed by it's expensive retail. Most of the supply destined for world markets was shipped out of Bangkok by plane so half the cost of the fruit is attributed to air freight. But during the last few years, Central America has been playing a key role in introducing this wonderful fruit to North Americans. Mexico, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica have all been steadily increasing their tonnage as demand exceeds availability.

Peeled Red Rambutan

Rambutan is related to the Lychee, Longan and Mamoncillo fruits and is grown throughout tropical parts of Asia and Central America. If you have ever tasted a Lychee Nut before it is also very similar in texture, flavor and the flesh is the same whitish color. Rambutans have a wonderful refreshing taste, especially served cold. The fruit is 3-4 times larger than it's cousin the Lychee or large grapes.

Peeled Reddish-Green Rambutan

In North America most Asian stores sell this fruit with more of a reddish-green color. The Red fruit is more expensive, a little sweeter and usually only sold at upscale stores if you can find it at all.

Rambutan On Display At A Market

When you're buying Rambutans look for fruit with a nice "bright" color, dull looking fruit (or black tips) is old... good to buy if it's half price and eaten right away. Fruit still attached to their branches is usually fresher.

Rambutan On Display At A Market

Rambutans have a tough skin. I suggest gently cutting into the shell in a 360 degrees rotation with a paring knife. The shell will now come off easily. You can also use your thumbnail or teeth to pierce the skin but it can be a bit messier using this method. Remember there is a small pit in the middle so be careful not to bite down too hard and injure your teeth. Rambutan should easily last a week in your refrigerator, do not store at room temperature it dries out too quickly.

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