RAMBUTAN (Tropical Fruit)
The Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) is a member of the Soapberry family which includes the lychee and the longan. The Malaysian word for hair is ‘rambu’ and the rambutan is sometimes referred to as a 'hairy lytchee.'
The oval or round shaped fruit is about the size of an apricot or a small hens egg, with parchment like skin covered with soft hairy bristles about 1/2 inch long. Rambutan range from greenish yellow to red in color, and hang in clusters of 10 to 12 fruits on the tree. They are juicy and sweet to slightly acid, but with an indistinct flavor.
The translucent flesh clings to a flattened seed, and flesh that separates easier from the seed distinguishes the more desirable varieties. The fruit can be peeled and eaten, used in fruit salads and dessert toppings or in sauces for chicken and seafood dishes.
Native to the Malay archipelago, this tropical fruit is popular throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. It is now cultivated commercially in many other areas including Central America and Zanzibar.
Rambutan trees produce fruit twice a year, and an average tree may produce 5,000 too 6,000 fruits each year, with some trees producing as many as 10,000 fruits a year. Most of the fruit is consumed fresh, but canned rambutan is also produced for export. With increasingly faster and less expensive long distance transportation available, worldwide demand for this delicate fresh fruit is expected to increase.
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