Advertisement
Refrain from buying rambutans that are green or black in color. The green color suggests that the fruit is not ripe, whereas, the fruits that have a black-colored rind are most likely to be overripe.
Native to Malaysia and Indonesia, rambutan is a tropical tree that belongs to the Sapindales order and Nephelium genus. Its scientific name is Nephelium lappaceum. The tree bears juicy fruits that are also called rambutans. The rind of this fruit is mostly red in color, but you may come across varieties that have a yellow or orange-colored rind. In Malay, the term 'rambut' means hair. The fruit gets its name from the 'hair-like bristles' that are present on its exterior. Under its distinctive, spiky rind lies sweet, edible flesh. So, to eat a rambutan, all you need to do is remove the rind. Under the flesh lies its seed, which is not edible. So, make sure that you discard the seed.

Studies conducted by a group of scientists from the Aklan State University, Philippines, revealed that the application of a plant growth regulator called Gibberellic acid (GA3) could help inhibit the development of seeds. Though these seedless fruits might have the same weight and diameter as the rambutans with seeds, they are not as long.

Nutritional Value

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 100 g of rambutan (canned, syrup pack) provides:

Nutrients (Value per 100 g)
Water78.04 g
Calories82 kcal
Protein0.65 g
Total lipid (fat)0.21 g
Carbohydrate, by difference20.87 g
Dietary fiber0.9 g
Minerals
Calcium22 mg
Iron0.35 mg
Magnesium7 mg
Phosphorus9 mg
Potassium42 mg
Sodium11 mg
Zinc0.08 mg
Vitamins
Vitamin C4.9 mg
Thiamin0.013 mg
Riboflavin0.022 mg
Niacin1.352 mg
Vitamin B60.020 mg
Folate8 µg
Vitamin A3 IU
Lipids
Cholesterol0 mg

What Does the Rambutan Fruit Taste Like?

Rambutan
Rambutan

The flesh of a rambutan is firm and juicy. It is somewhat translucent or milky-white in color. As far as the taste is concerned, it has a sweet, mildly acidic flavor. Under the edible flesh, which is also called aril, is a brown-colored seed.

Differences Between Rambutans and Lychees

If not for the spines or bristles, this fruit would look very similar to a lychee, another tropical fruit. Lychees don't have bristles on the rind, but their rind is rough to touch. Lychee fruits have a thin rind, in comparison to rambutans.

Bunch of Lychees
A bunch of lychees

Rambutan bunch
A bunch of rambutans

However, under the rind of rambutans and lychees lies white flesh, and under the flesh is a seed. The similarity between lychees and rambutans could be attributed to the fact that they are both members of the Sapindaceae family. Rambutan's taste is somewhat comparable to the taste of lychee fruit, but it is a less sweeter version of the lychee fruit.

Rambutan fruits on a plate
Edible flesh of a rambutan

Lychees
Edible flesh of the lychee fruit

The taste of rambutans will also depend on how ripe the fruit is. If the fruit is not ripe on account of being picked up early, it will not be very sweet.

Unripe rambutan fruits
Unripe rambutan fruits

If the rind or the pericarp is green, the fruit will not be ripe. As a result, the flesh will adhere to the seed, thereby imparting it a sour taste. In case of ripe rambutans, the flesh will easily separate from the seed.

How to Eat the Rambutan Fruit

In order to eat this fruit, you will need to remove the outer covering. To remove its peel, make a shallow cut on its exterior using a knife. Apply a little bit of pressure along that cut, so as to expose the white flesh. Thereafter, remove the peel. You will find an oval-shaped, 2 to 3-inch long white aril that is wrapped around the seed. Ripe rambutans easily slip out of the soft spiny skin (pericarp). In some varieties, the flesh is tightly bound to the seed (clingstone). In some varieties, the flesh easily slips away from the seed (freestone). Surely, once you get a taste of the juicy sweetness, you will agree that it was totally worth the effort.

Health Benefits

Rambutans contain modest amounts of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Moreover, vitamin C also helps in the absorption of minerals such as copper and iron.

It also contains an antioxidant called gallic acid. Other compounds that are responsible for the antioxidant properties of this fruit include ellagitannins and xanthones.

This fruit is also a good source of copper, which plays an important role in the production of white blood cells and red blood cells.

The presence of vitamin C in this fruit helps keep the skin healthy. Its high water content also helps in keeping the skin hydrated.

It is a good source of phosphorus, which helps remove the wastes from the kidneys.

Being a good source of calcium, it will also help keep the bones and teeth in a good condition.

Natural sugars present in this fruit can be easily metabolized by the body.

Iron, copper, and manganese present in this fruit can help promote the health of the circulatory system.

On a concluding note, rambutan is not just a sweet fruit, it is also a great source of nutrients. Though canned rambutans are readily available, this fruit should be consumed in its fresh, raw form, to reap its health benefits. Both lychees and rambutans have a refreshing sweet taste, which is why these can be used in cocktails, fresh juices, fruit salads, jams, and jellies. Due to the similarity in their taste, rambutans make an excellent substitute for the lychee fruit.