Rambutan (rambotan), a fruit native to Southeast Asia, is now grown in tropical climates around the world. Its name means “hair” in Malay, in reference to the soft, drooping crest that makes the fruit unique. In Costa Rica, it is known as mammon chino or "Chinese sucker" because of the way it eats and its relationship to the lychee, a fruit of Chinese origin.
Part 1 of 2: Eating rambotan
Step 1. Choose a mature rambutan
They are born green, then turn red, orange or yellow when they mature. The hairy crest is green means the fruit has just been picked, but once it turns black, it's still good to eat in a few days.
Step 2. Make a slit
Hold the rambutton firmly on a flat surface, holding both ends. Place a sharp knife in the middle of the fruit, as if you were going to cut it in half. Gently cut, separating the leathery and crested rind without piercing the fruit. Enlarge the slit by going all the way around.
You can tear the bark with your thumbnail, or even bite into it to make a slit. The crest is soft and doesn't hurt, but the bark is inedible and has a bitter taste
Step 3. Open the rambutan
The cut shell should come off easily. Peel off one side of the fruit, as if you were opening a hinged lid. Inside the fruit looks like a grape: oval, slightly transparent, white or pale yellow in color.
Step 4. Press to release the fruit
Squeeze the remaining skin without force to loosen the edible part in the hand.
Step 5. Take out the seed
The seed in the middle is not raw edible. Cut the meat without separating the seed and try to pull it out. Some rambutans (of the "freestone" variety) have seeds that slide out easily, while others ("clingstone") stick to the flesh. If you have a clingstone rambotan, leave the seeds and spit it out as you eat.
Step 6. Eat the fruit
If you removed the seeds, you can easily bite. If she still has the seeds, notice that they have a hard covering that looks like paper. Nibble the fruit around the seeds to avoid biting them.
- Most rambottans are sweet and juicy, but some varieties are sour or a little dry.
- Most rambottans have bitter seeds, although some can be a little sweet. Few people consume the seeds raw, as they contain traces of potentially toxic chemical components. Consuming them is not recommended, especially for children and animals.
Part 2 of 2: Using extra rambutans
Step 1. Bake the seeds
In some regions, the seeds are roasted and consumed, similar to the preparation of roasted nuts. Even though they are edible this way, the seeds are a little bitter and can have mild narcotic properties. Further studies need to be done before they are considered safe for consumption.
Step 2. Make rambutan jelly
Peel 500 grams of rambutans and two cloves of garlic, boiling in water until the meat separates from the seeds. Discard the frosting from the seeds and place the seeds in a pan of water, cooking until soft. Cook the meat, soft seeds and 1½ cups (or 350 g) of sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes or until it takes on a jelly-like appearance, remove the garlic and place in sterilized glass jars.
To make a quick dessert, make a compote after peeling and boiling
Step 3. Store the extra rambutans in the refrigerator
These fruits only stay good for consumption for a maximum of two weeks, and usually last only a few days after you buy them. Put them in the refrigerator whole and unpeeled in a perforated plastic bag to make them last longer.
Step 4. Freeze the rambutans to make a special dessert
Freeze unpeeled whole fruits in a zippered plastic bag. Peel and eat directly from the freezer for a milky, candy-like dessert.
- If serving as a guest, leave half the rind in the fruit after cutting to serve as a decorative support.
- After you buy rambutans, you can keep them in the refrigerator for three to five days covered with plastic wrap to reduce moisture loss (or leave them without plastic if you live in a high humidity location).