Rambutan in our A-Z - Cooking Index
A Rambutan is a pink fruit which is widely eaten across south-east Asia. It has a very thick, spiky skin but inside it has an almost translucent, light pink flesh which is sweet and slightly acidic, similar to lychee. Like the lychee, it has a hard, shiny stone in the middle which is not generally eaten.
Rambutans are most commonly eaten out-of-hand after merely tearing the rind open, or cutting it around the middle and pulling it off. The peeled fruits are occasionally stewed as dessert. In Malaya a preserve is made by first boiling the peeled fruit to separate the flesh from the seeds. After cooling, the testa is discarded and the seeds are boiled alone until soft. They are combined with the flesh and plenty of sugar for about 20 minutes, and 3 cloves may be added before sealing in jars. The seeds are sometimes roasted and eaten in the Philippines, although they are reputedly poisonous when raw.
The fruit is not overly sweet, nor sour; it tastes something like a grape.
Rambutans are grown on trees and are commercially produced within a 15o range of the equator where it is still hot enough for the fruit to grow. The trees need to have deep soils for effective production and the fruit must be left on the tree to ripen before a biannual six week harvesting period in autumn and spring.
Rambutan is widely sold in Asian supermarkets in America and Europe but tend not to travel particularly well.
Rambutan seeds can be used in the production of soap.