The tropical fruit Rambutan, Nephelium lappaceum, is one of Asia’s best known fruits. The Rambutan fruit looks slightly strange at first, encased in a rather tough reddish skin covered with bristly spines but the Rambutan flesh is succulent and sweet. Widely grown throughout S.E.Asia, Rambutan trees can grow to a height of almost 20 meters and can be all male, all female of hermaphroditic.
Closely related to the Lychee and the Longan and Longkong, Rambutan trees bear fruit twice a year but the main season for Rambutan is May to September. Thailand is the largest commercial producer of Rambutans.
Rambutan fruit is round or slightly oval and once the skin is removed, the translucent fruit has a sweet/sour flavour. Mature fruits have dark red skin with either red hairs or red hairs with green tips, depending on the variety. Unripe fruits have a pinkish/greenish/yellowish skin. Each fruit has a single shiny brown seed inside.
Rambutan fruits should be left to ripen on the trees as they do not keep a long time once picked. If possible, try to buy Rambutans that are still attached to small branches as they will keep a little longer. Rambutans are best eaten fresh but can also be made into jam. Canned Rambutans have also become widely available.
Other Tropical Fruit