Rambutan

The rambutan fruit may look prickly, but it’s actually a relative of the lychee, longan fruit, and mamoncillo, and is a great treat!

The Rambutan Tree

Rambutan fruit comes from the rambutan tree, a tropical tree that is native to Indonesia, as well as Southeast Asia. 

The tree quickly spread across the world to Central America, Africa, and Asia. However, the widest variety of rambutan trees is found in Malaysia and India. 

Between the 1200s and 1400s, the Indian Ocean trade was the main way these trees got around the world. They were introduced to East Africa around this time and quickly became popular. 

By the 1800s, the Dutch brought the tree from their Southeast Asian colonies to South America. After this, the plants spread to Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Ecuador, among other Central American and Tropical American locations. 

An attempt was made to grow the plant in the southeastern United States, but the species was unable to grow.

Types Of Rambutan 

Some varieties of the fruit include: 

  • Binjai
  • Lebak Buxus
  • Rapiah
  • Cimacan 
  • Sinyonya
  • Silengkeng
  • Sikonto
  • Aceh kuning

An Evergreen Tree With Spiky Fruits

This evergreen tree typically produces single-seeded berries that are usually between 3 and 6 centimeters long. The outside of these fruits has a distinct red, orange, or yellow skin with tiny spikes, or “spinterns”. 

The inside of the fruit, however, is how the rambutan became popular. The flesh is a translucent pale pink or white color. The flavor is reminiscent of grapes and is generally both sweet and slightly acidic. 

Known in some instances as the “hairy fruit”, rambutan can be eaten both raw and cooked. Once the fruit is peeled, both the fruit flesh and the seed can be eaten. 

A Rambutan Pudding 

If you’re looking for ways to use rambutan in your next dessert, check out this delicious rambutan pudding. The recipe calls for canned rambutan, red jelly, milk, and sugar. 

Popularizing The Rambutan 

In the last two decades, rambutan has become more popular and has been in world news a little more often. In fact, seeds that were distributed by the World Relief-European Union back in 2001 began to produce fruit by 2006, and since this period rambutan production has been on the rise. 

The fruit has also been in the news recently as a potential superfood. The fruit is in fact packed with fiber and vitamin C, among other vitamins and minerals. 

Medical Applications Of Rambutan 

In addition to being a great snack, rambutan also has vitamin-heavy fruit that has several medical uses, as well as applications for beauty. 

It’s fairly high in iron content and is often used to treat such conditions as anemia. 

The fruit also has some benefits for the outside of the body as well. The water content of the fruit makes it great for treating and hydrating the skin. 

Give The Hairy Fruit A Go 

If you’ve never heard of rambutan, it’s certainly worth a try. This beloved fruit may just be making its way into popularity around the world, but its medical benefits and sweet taste make it great for easy – and healthy – snacking!

Pomegranate

Though the pomegranate may seem tough to eat, its juicy seeds are well worth the effort. 

Middle Eastern Roots

It’s thought that the pomegranate originated in the areas that make up Northern India and Iran. The popular fruit was also grown through the Mediterranean and made its way to Spanish America via settlers in the late 1500s. By the mid-1700s, the fruit had made its way to California. 

A Red-Purple Seed Husk 

The pomegranate is comprised of a husk with two parts. These include the outer part, also known as the pericarp, and the inner part, or mesocarp. 

This is where the pomegranate seeds can be found. These seeds are attached to the mesocarp and have juice-filled membranes. 

The entire fruit is technically a berry and is sized anywhere between a lemon and a grapefruit. It has a red-purple husk and is fairly round. 

The Drought-Tolerant Fruit

Though it needs to be in areas with either a Mediterranean winter rainfall or summer rainfall, pomegranates aren’t the kind of fruit you’ll find in wetter areas. They tend to be grown in dry areas and are typically tolerant of periods of drought. 

Types Of Pomegranate

Unlike many other fruits, there aren’t really all that many varieties of the pomegranate. In addition to the pomegranate trees that produce the fruit we know today, the other two species include: 

  • Punica granatum, a type of pomegranate tree usually used as an ornamental plant 
  • Punica protopunica, a type of tree found in a few islands in the Arabian Sea. This pomegranate tree produces fruit that is usually less sweet. 

A Sweet Snack 

One of the toughest parts of enjoying the pomegranate is removing the seeds. One tip to get the hang of it: 

  • Score the pomegranate husk with a knife and breaking it open. Once you’ve done this, separate the seeds in water – the inedible pulp will float to the surface, and the seeds will sink. 

Once you’ve gotten to the good part, you’ll enjoy a sweet, tangy fruit. 

Bursts Of Flavor 

Pomegranates will elevate just about any dish to another level. With the sweet and sour bursts of juice contained in the seed membranes, they make a great addition to things like mousses, parfaits, and even atop cakes. 

A Cultural Giant 

The pomegranate has many cultural and historical references. Since their cultivation originated in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions, the fruit held symbolic relevance in different religions. 

As the pomegranate made its way around the world, other cultures and civilizations embraced the fruit. In fact, the coat of arms of Granada features a pomegranate. 

A Useful Food Dye 

As with fruits such as mulberries, pomegranates are often used for their dyeing properties. They’re used not only as food dyes but also in the decoration of different fabrics. 

Additionally, though the pomegranate peel isn’t something that one eats, it’s been found to contain several useful extracts. For this reason, it’s often used in dietary supplements. 

Worth The Work 

Though it may be tough to get to the seeds of the pomegranate, the effort is worth it for a juicy, sweet seed that packs a ton of flavor!