The first time you see a rambutan you might wonder aloud, “What is that?” If you have been to Costa Rica you have probably seen the spiky, red fruit piled high on a stand like a mountain of furry orbs. Here it is known as a mamon chino, or “Chinese sucker.”[...]
Once peeled apart, you’ll find a transparent fruit very similar in color and consistency to a peeled grape. The slick fruit is mild, sweet and just slightly tart, similar to white wine grapes at the peak of ripeness.
Rambutan trees bear fruit twice yearly: once around July and August, and again between November and February. During this time, they are available in almost every supermarket, farmers’ market, and roadside fruit stand in Costa Rica. Look for bright red “fur” and a firm, slightly spongy fruit. And it’s a bargain at $0.50 per pound.
The fruit is high in nutrients, including riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and zinc. Their health benefits are varied, and many believe a diet rich in rambutan will help lower blood pressure and prevent cancer.
Rambutan (a relative of the lychee and longan) is most commonly consumed raw, straight from the firm skin. I love to sit down with a bag of fruit and a good movie, peeling apart the furry red shells over the course of a couple hours. Each fruit has about seven calories, so these little treats pack a delicious punch for their snacking value.
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