WHAT THE HECK IS A RAMBUTAN?
Have you ever heard of a rambutan? I didn’t, but I have now. And I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about rambutans – cousin of the lychee.
But who cares about all the facts if you don’t know what to do with them once you get them home from the grocer’s! I’ve got you covered there too my friends. Fabulous things can happen when you start to appreciate the subtle flavor profile of these small, delicate fruits and let your creativity loose.
I’ll show you how to use rambutans in recipes that highlight the fresh tropical flavor of this luscious fruit.
I spotted these fabulously strange fruits in the produce section of my green grocer’s and couldn’t resist grabbing a few packs. What exactly are they? And, what on earth do you do with them? Here’s the answers.
“HAIRY” OR “SPIKY”, THAT IS THE QUESTION
Rambutan fruit come from the medium-sized tropical trees that belong to the Sapindaceae family. Actually, the name really refers to the delicious taste of the fruit itself.
When the fruit is young, the spines which cover the fruit are bright green which turns to reddish to orange color which signals that the fruit is ready for harvesting.
Rambutans are usually harvested at the peak of maturity, which stops further ripening of the fruit. Storage is quite a major problem for the fruit because, during storage, the fruit rapidly loses its quality in appearance, due to shriveling and browning of the rind.
Additionally, longer storage also causes the fruit to soften and the pulp to become watery. Market prices and consumer approval are seriously affected by poor shipping and storage procedures. Standard storage practices need to be stringently followed in order to maintain freshness and high fruit quality.
The rambutan is closely related to some other tropical fruits like mamoncillo, longan, and lychee. In that region’s native languages, rambut means hair. The name comes from the spines or hairy protrusions covering the outer layer of the fruit. In fact, in Vietnam, they call them chom chom –meaning messy hair. That’s kind of a fun fact, and a fun name, isn’t it?
WHAT’S GOT SPIKES, YET IS TENDER, AND TASTES LIKE A TROPICAL GRAPE?
Even though the outer part of the rambutan is hairy, the fruit inside is tender and fleshy. It tastes sweet like a grape, with a little sour on the back of your tongue when eaten raw.
Rambutans most closely resemble the appearance of lychees. Similar to lychees, they are found in bunches with their stems sticking out. Some varieties of rambutans could also have greenish yellow or orange exterior.
Rambutans are an excellent source of Vitamin C and Calcium. They also offer a relatively high amount of fiber, iron, and potassium. Here is a complete nutritional breakdown of this amazing fruit:
100 grams of rambutan contains:
- 5 milligrams of Iron
- 5 IU of Vitamin A
- 33 milligrams of Calcium
- 63 milligrams of Potassium
- 5 milligrams of Sodium
- 4 milligrams of Vitamin C
- 01 milligrams of Thiamin
- 0 milligram of Cholesterol
- 0 gram of Protein
As you can see, such a diminutive fruit can actually pack a lot of nutrition in a very tiny package. The Vitamin C content is very beneficial in improving the body’s immunity and also helps the body to flush out toxins efficiently. Rambutans also contain a small amount of copper, which works in conjunction with the iron in improving our blood vessels and blood cell health.
ADDITIONAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING RAMBUTANS
- Helps improve digestive health – The fiber content of the fruit helps the digestive system to work better to aid in digestion and prevents conditions like constipation.
- Boosts energy levels – Its protein and carbohydrate content help maintain high energy levels.
- Aids in preventing cancer – Rambutans are rich in antioxidant properties, thus beneficial in preventing cancer by reducing inflammation.
- Enhances bone health – The phosphorus content of rambutans helps in the formation and maintenance of our bones.
- Promotes a healthy heart – Considerable amounts of fiber are part of the rambutan’s beneficial effects in reducing the risk of heart illnesses and hypertension. Studies show that it may also help lower cholesterol levels in some people.
- A “preggo’s” best friend – Rambutans have been proven to help with the dizziness and nausea often experienced during the first trimester. The amount of iron in rambutans also help with fatigue and to improve the levels of hemoglobin in the blood during pregnancy.
THAT’S EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RAMBUTANS – NOW, HOW TO PEEL AND EAT A RAMBUTAN
You’ll find that the people in countries that grow rambutans eat them out of hand, when the fruit is mature, fresh and raw.
HERE’S HOW YOU PEEL A RAMBUTAN:
You can easily peel open a rambutan by splitting the skin apart with your nails and spreading it back, much as you would peel an orange. Don’t worry about the spikes, they look sharp but are actually quite soft and bend back easily when the fruit is fresh. The fruit contains a pit that must be removed or spit out after eating the flesh.
Since the pit inside tends to adhere to the flesh, I prefer not to eat them out of hand. After the first one or two, I don’t want to deal with the pits anymore!
HOW TO USE RAMBUTANS IN RECIPES – 2 Fabulous Ways To Use Rambutans
RAMBUTANS IN LIME SYRUP
1 cup water / 1 cup sugar / 1 lime, zested and juiced / 20 rambutans, peeled (cinnamon sticks and/or star anise optional, depending on your intended usage)
- Place water and sugar in medium saucepan over medium heat and stir well to combine.
- As the mixture heats up, stir occasionally to help the sugar dissolve.
- Once the sugar is completely dissolved, add the lime zest and raise the heat to medium-high.
- After the sugar syrup begins to simmer, continue simmering for 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat, stir in lime juice.
- Add peeled rambutans to hot simple syrup and let cool.
- Place in a mason jar or decorative container.
- Store in refrigerator.
Your lime-infused rambutans will keep in the refrigerator about 10 days or so.
These make a lovely topping on ice cream, added to a fruit salad or even warmed and spooned over a thick slice of roasted pork.
THE ULTIMATE HOLIDAY BAR CART IS COMING SOON
My favorite way to use fabulous lime-infused rambutans is in my next recipe.
It’s a wonderful libation that is perfect as an addition to my Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart. I’ve been busy putting together the most incredible holiday bar components that will knock the sock off your guests. This recipe is called a Rambutini, get it?
I’ll be publishing a master Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart post and several related posts simultaneously that will include all the fabulous “ingredients” you’ll need to be the host with the holiday bar that guests keep posting on Facebook and Instagram!
Here’s one of the things I’ll be adding to my holiday bar cart this year. A few of these tasty vodka flavors will be bottled up for the holidays and offered to liven up my guests’ choice of libations. You can check out the post here: 20 Infused Vodka Recipes and Flavored Vodka Cocktails for Christmas
Keep an eye out for the Ultimate Holiday Bar Cart post to be published sometime before Thanksgiving. Make sure you are an IFAFL Email Subscriber, and you’ll get the post right in your inbox the day it’s published! Don’t miss out on something fabulous because you didn’t subscribe!
NAN’S HOSTESS TIP OF THE DAY
If you really want to be a hostess that has a few tricks up her sleeve this holiday season, make up a big batch of simple syrup. Keep it in your refrigerator to add to dessert recipes, fruity beverages, salad dressings, and of course, this delicious cocktail. Just keep the proportions correct, using equal parts water to sugar, dissolve completely, bring to a simmer, cook for three minutes, cool, keep chilled, like, forever.
RAMBUTINI SPECIALTY COCKTAIL RECIPE – A riff on the classic martini
Yield: 1 fabulous cocktail
4 ounces simple syrup / 2 ounces vodka / 1 ounce tripe sec / 1 tsp. lime juice / 2 lime-infused rambutans
- Remove the pit from one lime-infused rambutan, dice the flesh
- Place 1 cup crushed ice into a cocktail shaker, add simple syrup, vodka, triple sec and lime juice
- Shake until well combined and chilled
- Drain mixture into a martini glass, add the flesh of the rambutan and stir to combine
- Drop the second rambutan into the bottom of the glass, add a lime slice garnish
- Sip, savor, swallow, enjoy!
How cool will rambutans look on your holiday cheese and fruit board displays? Or what about a garnish on a holiday entree platter.
Your guests won’t stop asking you questions. So make sure you bone up on everything you need to know about rambutans – cousin of the lychee! I think I’ll use a combo of peeled and unpeeled to up the “wow” factor!
!WARNING WILL ROBINSON! – Make sure you let your guests know there is a pit inside! (sorry, I just couldn’t resist the reference to the old “Lost In Space” television series)
SHOW US HOW YOU USED YOUR RAMBUTANS THIS SEASON!
I’m dying to see how you gals use your creativity to incorporate some rambutans into your holiday menus and bring a little “bling” into your special gatherings. You really need to try the Rambutini specialty cocktail recipe, it’s just fab!
How about posting some of your pics over at The Fab Life Facebook Group and show us how you are using your rambutans!
Come join the gang in our Facebook group and get in on the gabfest at, The Fab Life, where we show off our triumphs and share our pursuit of “the good life” with each other all week long.
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