Rambutan

Rambutan

Plural:
Rambutans
Family:
Sapindaceae – Soapberry family
Species:
Nephelium lappaceum

Origin

The plant comes from the warm and damp tropical regions of India, South-East Asia and Malaysia. There they grow in gardens and plantations, like apple trees do here.

Plant

The 20 m high evergreen trees carry “indehiscent fruits” like nuts, which are related to lychees and longans (Dimocarpus longan). They develop from the blossom-panicles and grow in bunches on long peduncles, which are covered completely in hair and their name makes a reference to this (Malay rambut — hairy).

Cultivation

Today, besides in their native country, they are also are cultivated in tropical Africa, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Australia. They can be harvested twice a year: from June to October and from December to February.

Importations

All the year round by aerial cargo from Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Fruit

Edible:
The flesh.
Inedible:
The skin and seeds.
Odour:
Neutral.
Flavour:
Sweet, sourish and refreshing.
Size:
They are about the same size as a chestnut or a plum.
Shape:
Oval.
Skin:
The skin is hard like a lychee; claret-red to brown in colour, sometimes yellow; almost completely covered with a finger’s width of curly red, greenish or yellow hairs.
Flesh:
Like a lychee, it is milky-white, very juicy, sweet and sour, surrounding a 2 cm seed.
Ripeness:
The hairs are multi-coloured.
Overripe fruits:
The hairs are limp and/or discoloured black.

Usage

They may be eaten raw and used in sweet salads as well as warmed up in Chinese dishes or marinated in punches.

Storage

Ripe fruits can be stored for about 2 days in a chilled space. Rambutans are harvested when they are almost fully ripened and continue to mature while they are transported and sold.