Rambutan: Info and Health Benefits

The rambutan is yet another very interesting exotic fruit.  At first glance, you might think the flesh of the fruit looks like a lychee; you are almost right!  The rambutan, like the lychee, is in the Sapindaceae family of plants, which the lychee is also in.  However, if you take a look at the whole fruit, you’ll definitely see something different about the rambutan: the outer, inedible part of the rambutan is fuzzy!  In fact, did you know that the word “rambutan” comes from the Indonesian word, meaning “hairy?”

rambutan

Does this fuzzy fruit look like a lychee to you?

The rambutan is an exotic fruit that is native to the Southeast Asian regions: these include Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and more.  As you may notice from looking at a picture of a rambutan, the rambutan is very closely related to the lychee and longan, and provide some very similar health benefits and nutrients.  However, there’s a lot different about the taste of the rambutan, as well as some nutritional and health differences that are unique to the rambutan.

In Costa Rica, you might find something called “wild” rambutan.  Unlike more common types of rambutan, this type has a yellow color rather than the more common red color.  This type of rambutan is also a bit smaller.

Very interestingly, rambutan is non-climacteric: this means that if they are not still attached to the tree, they don’t become ripe!

Though you might have not even heard of the rambutan, the rambutan is one of the most popular and favorite fruits of Southeast Asia.  In fact, today, the rambutan is grown all over the world in tropical regions: these include Africa, the Caribbean, India, and yes, of course, Southeast Asia.

The rambutan is usually eaten fresh, but it can also be used in a wide variety of recipes and be used to make various jams.  One common use of the rambutan is in james or jellies; you can also find it canned in some stores.

However, the rambutan is best eaten fresh and by itself; this way it provides the most nutrients and the best taste.  When buying rambutan, one thing to look for is that the rambutan is still attached to its branch.  This way, it retains a higher quality: it rots less easily, is hard to be damaged by pests, and remains fresh for much longer.

Rambutans have been a huge part of Southeast Asian culture and medicine for centuries, providing numerous health benefits.  Rambutan seeds provide huge amounts of healthy fatty acids and oils, especially oleic acid and arachidic acid, sometimes used in cooking.  In addition, the roots, bark, and leaves of the rambutan have been used as medicine for ages.

Since fresh rambutan is hard to find locally in Western markets, consider buying it online.  This is my favorite supplier: Melissa’s Fresh Rambutans (2 lb)

Further reading

  1. Melissa’s Great Book of Produce: Everything You Need to Know about Fresh Fruits and Vegetables 

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment