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Fruit Rambutan

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Rambutan by Murtadha Rafaai

Fruit Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum) is a round, oval shaped drupe fruit with a leathery skin. Sometimes the skin is orange or yellow, but usually it is reddish in color. It is covered with fleshly pliable spines that look like hairs. In fact, the name, Rambutan is derived from the Malay word, rambut, meaning, “hairs”.

The fruit flesh itself is translucent, whitish or sometimes very pale pink. It is sweet, watery and has a mildly acidic flavor and is shaped much like an egg. Inside the fleshy fruit is the Rambutan seed, which is glossy brown with a white basal scar. The seed is soft and crunchy and bitter. Do you have a rambutan recipe to share? The rambutan fruit is closely related to the following tropical fruits:

The fruit has various names across the world, some are:

  • ngoh – Thailand
  • mamón chino – Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua

The Rambutan tree is medium-sized tropical tree in the Sapindaceae family. It is native to Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia.

In Southeast Asia and Indonesia the fruit is very common and considered almost like an apple is to people in colder climates. The fruit is now cultivated in the following countries, making it more common and popular:

  • Australia
  • Africa
  • Cambodia
  • Carribean Islands
  • Central America
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • United States – Hawaii

Rambutan by Aly Syafiq Hashim


Fruit rambutan is usually sold fresh but is also used in jams and jellies and is sold canned.

The rambutan seed is high in certain fats and oils and therefore is valuable in the manufacture of soap.

The roots, bark and leaves of the rambutan tree are used in the production of dye and various medicines.

Rambutan by Aly Syafiq Hashim

Eating a Rambutan

To open a rambutan, either cut it part way into the rind or, if freshly ripe, bite into it since the spines are quite soft and pose no threat. You can always just try twisting the rind in your fingers (only when it is ripe) and the fruit will pop out.

Once the rind is cut part way around the equator of the fruit it can be pried open with your fingers or fingernail. There may be some juice if the rambutan is really fresh that you should try to catch before it drips out. It is as sweet as the fruit.

Remove the meat of the fruit from the rind by squeezing it until it pops out. There is one seed in the center which you’ll want to discard because it is bitter.


Like their close fruit relative, the Lychee, rambutans are high in Vitamin C and these other minerals:

  • copper
  • manganese
  • trace elements of potassium, calcium, and iron

Read more about the fruit rambutan

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