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.
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.
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?
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:
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.
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!
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)
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.
My favorite way to use fabulous lime-infused rambutans is in my next recipe, a Rambutini Cocktail!
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.
CLICK HERE TO READ THESE FABULOUSLY COMPREHENSIVE POSTS:
You’ll want your own ULTIMATE HOLIDAY BAR CART GUIDE too, won’t you? I’ll tell you how to get your copy at the end of this post.
Now for my recipe called a Rambutini, get it?
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.
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
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!
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)
Don’t forget to download these fabulous New Year’s Party Printables to help make your soiree a festive greeting to the New Year!
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