Have you heard of rambutan or lychee?
Do you know their tastes are fabulous?
Rambutan vs lychee are the 2 Asian fruits that are similar yet different. They both are in the same family, have white flesh but their taste and health benefits are amazingly different!
Great News: It is the season of rambutan. Go grab it when it is still under $2 per pound! As last year, rambutan fruit extraordinarily thrived even in unseasonal conditons, stated by ABC News.
Rambutan, scientifically known as Nephelium lappaceum L, belongs to the family of Sapindaceae, together with maple, chestnut and lychee. (You see how interesting it is to be in the same family with chestnut!)
The "rambutan" name is based on the hairy looks of the fruit. And I extremely love the way our ancestors brilliantly named our fruits and we can easily “picture” the fruits in our mind.
This exotic fruit was first planted in the Southeast Asian region and then propagated and widespread to many other parts of the world. In my country, rambutan is grown mainly in the provinces of Dong Nai River, close to Saigon, and South Central region, so keep this in mind if you want to visit plenty of this Asian fruit field in Vietnam.
By the way
Across the world, rambutans are planted mainly in Africa, Oceania, Central America. Nowadays, it is increasingly cultivated in Australia and the Hawaiian Islands. The rambutan is especially adapted to areas that are not submerged.
2. Rambutan- From Trees to Flowers and Fruits
Rambutan tree is usually 12-15m (470-590 inch) high with oval single-leaf and reddish-colored tops. Rambutan flowers have pleasant aroma with white color and 3-5 mm long.
The rambutan usually grows in clusters with the color of yellow, orange or red, which is somewhat like how lychee grows. Its skin, or shell, is pliable, soft and extremely feathery. The white fruit meat inside is thicker, but less juicy than lychee, but I cannot deny that both taste incredibly good, with combination of mild sourness and sweetness depending on the variety.
Here's the deal.
The fruit ripens for about 15-18 weeks. Rambutan is usually harvested twice a year. A single mature tree can be harvested up to 5,000 to 6,000 fruits per season (60-70 kg or 132-154 lb).
The tropical Asian plains are suitable for growing rambutans. In Southeast Asia, rambutans are distributed in several countries such as Vietnam, China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Philippinnes. This Southeast Asian fruit has many varieties, but in my country there are three main varieties: Java rambutan, rambutan and rambutan.
Another fact is, many countries found that rambutan is a tree with high economic efficiency compared to some other crops. Many households have been enriched from growing rambutans in the off-season. You would be surprised at how high in demand it is for rambutan in the market.
Farmers should come up with some solutions to improve planting rambutan trees because wouldn’t it be awesome if we have more chances to taste low-priced rambutan no matter where we are?
Shout out to any tree lover or homegrown plant lover out there, do you want to “own” a rambutan tree at home? If yes, follow me through this part. It is possible to propagate rambutan by seed or branching.
Rambutan seed should only be used as a rootstock because it takes longer time for the tree to fully grow from the seedlings and it also gives less fruit. Seed multiplication is not the same as the mother plan, so people grow rambutans by chopping branches. Grow it in good and deep soil to improve the growth efficiency.
The leaves of this Asian tropical fruit require relatively short sunshine duration, about two to three months.
If you ave a big yard/ crop, with the perfect weather and temperature, you can grow up to 500 trees per hectare; Some experienced farmers suggest intercropping rambutan male and female trees, beekeeping to increase pollinating and off-season flowering.
I know that it sounds overwhelming to grow a tree well but I believe that you would be overjoyed by harvesting all the fruits from the tree.
4. Benefits of rambutan
So why do you need to have rambutan or how beneficial it is to your bodies? What are all the rambutan benefits? There must be a reason why Fox News call it another super fruit. I would say, there are a lot of unknown benefits from this kind of Southeast Asian fruits that you can never think of.
One can exploit its health-related advantages from all parts of rambutan. Generally, the fruits are rich in vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus ... Fruits can be eaten fresh, or canned in many forms, for storage or export.
Rambutan seed contains 35-40% of a thick, oily particle like that of cocoa seed, with pleasant odor, consisting mostly of arachidine, along with olein and stearin. Rambutan seeds have such high oil content that they are often used to make cooking oil, soap, or even candles. Its trees and roots can also be used for pharmaceutical and color production.
As if that's not enough
Whenever you eat the flesh inside, usually the outer skin of the seed will stick to the flesh and some people actually do not like it (I admit, I used to be one of them). But you would be surprised if I said that part is significantly healthful because it actually has a cooling function. Green fruits and peels are used to treat intestinal diseases, malaria treatment, and even worm treatment.
Treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes
Just like several other tropical fruits that I have talked about such as mango, soursop, bitter melon, etc., rambutan can be an excellent treatment of high blood pressure and diabetes. For hundreds of years, Malaysian and Indonesian people often use ingredients from stem, seed and flesh to make traditional medicines for some diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. because rambutan is typically rich in protein, carbohydrates, good fats, vitamin C, iron, etc.
Like pomelo fruit, rambutan is high in fiber content and low in calories, which is a good diet for girls like me who want to lose weight. Eating rambutan will help you feel full longer, thereby controlling your hunger and support your weight loss diet.
Eating a lot of rambutan is also a good way to help the body destroy intestinal parasites, thereby reducing the symptoms of diarrhea and fever. The reason is that the active ingredients in rambutan have very high antiseptic properties.
Skin beauty enhancement
Another rambutan benefit, like other fruits, is to boost the skin beauty. Because rambutan contains a lot of water and antioxidant, it also works to make the skin soft, smooth and healthy.
For hair that lacks vitality, this can definitely help you regain the strength for your hair. What you can do is to mash rambutan leaves and then add a little water, apply this mixture to your hair for 15 minutes. All you need to do afterwards is let it do the magic. The active ingredients in rambutan leaves will help your hair look way better every single day if used regularly.
Rambutan contains a lot of water, carbohydrates and protein with the function of supplying energy to the body. Also, Natural News pointed out that rambutan fruit is very high in fiber though low in calories, so rambutan fruit also makes you feel less tired and prevent bloating.
Like lychee, the abundant amount of vitamin C in rambutan also helps the body to absorb iron and copper minerals more easily. In addition, gallic acid active in rambutan acts as a powerful antioxidant, which removes free radicals that damage the body and prevent cancer.
Stimulate blood cells
Earlier I have mentioned how it is good for anyone with high blood pressure. It surely does help a lot with body blood cells as well. Rambutan also contains copper and iron, which are needed to stimulate the body to produce red blood cells and white blood cells. From there, the body helps control dizziness and fatigue due to anemia. In addition, manganese in this fruit also helps the body produce healthy enzymes.
Eliminate toxins in the kidneys
Waste and toxins in the kidneys can be easily removed by the rich amount of phosphorus in rambutan. This phosphorus is also essential for the repair, maintenance and stimulation of tissue in the body. Not only that, the amount of calcium is very important in the rambutan in combination with phosphorus to strengthen the teeth and bone strength.
Treat some common illness
When you have headache, you can use pureed rambutan leaves on your forehead. The nutrients in the rambutan leaves will help soothe the nerves and relieve headaches effectively. Moreover, the decoction from rambutan can be applied on the tongue to treat thrush, while the decoction from rambutan roots is used to reduce the fever.
5. How to pick rambutans
Do you know how to choose the yummiest rambutan in the market yet?
Like mentioning above in the section of “Benefits of rambutan”, ripe rambutan contains many healthy nutrients such as vitamin C, copper, manganese, minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, protein, good fat, phosphorus, etc.
In my country, the rambutan season lasts from April to June. You can also say, it ripens when the season changes. Even so, only knowing about its season time will not be enough to pick the most delicious rambutan. Here are some suggestions for buying rambutan.
The outside of rambutan
Just like other fruits, when choosing rambutan, the first criteria we should note is that they shouls stay fresh, tasty, wilted, and not dried. Dried fruits that wither or have insect bites are often easy to cause abdominal pain when eating.
How does the delicious rambutan look like?
The leathery outershell is not soft even when pressed hard. On the contrary, if the fruit is watery when pressed, it is not fresh any more. Freshly picked rambutans will have spines on a bright blue or bright red shell. If the spines have turned black, it has been wilt.
Another sign for fresh rambutan is that the leaves and the little fruits hanging (you can sometimes notice it) are still green. In the case of branches stick with dried, withered fruit, it means you should not buy it at all.
It does not hurt to try tasting it…
This is one of our habits when my mother and I buy fruits in Vietnam- trying one single rambutan first. Eating it out also helps us be able to get some quality fruit. (I do not guarantee it works here in the US though!)
When peeled, pay attention to rambutan “meat”. The flesh inside is relatively thick, milky white, fragrant and sweet, which means a delicious rambutan. If the flesh has turned yellowish, smelly, rotten, you should buy it because it has been damaged.
On the other hand
Although in terms of shape, most of rambutans may look alike, not every rambutan has a sweet taste. The reason is, many of them that look good outside still tastes sour inside. So eat before try to buy is also to know that rambutan there is sweet.
6. Rambutan vs lychee: which is better?
There is a myth, that long time ago during Chinese dynasties, princesses and queens would have lychee (also known as litchee) almost everyday for its benefits of enhancing beauty. This is why lychee was once said to be a “royal fruit”.
At the same time
Rambutans could be found everywhere in Vietnam, so they were considered as “casual fruit”. So, they are apparently not one kind of rare fruits? But, does it make rambutan less sweet and yummy? I can say not at all. Instead, they are both tie in their deliciousness.
Let me tell you how similar they are.
In terms of flesh inside, they are both white. Each also has a big seed in the center. One of the fun facts, you can mix them both in your alcoholic drinks for any fruity shots. And they both have reddish skin/ shell color.
How different are they?
Apparently, their looks and shells. You can easily recognize rambutans by their leathery hard shells. And sometimes, when you want to peel it, you should be mindful of your nails (because the shell is really rough and hard to peel) or you can use a knife to cut in a circular motion around the fruit.
The skin of lychee is much softer with no spines and you can easily peel it off. The size of rambutan is slightly bigger than that of lychee.
Even though the texture of both rambutan and lychee seems alike, its taste is quite different. While rambutan flesh is very refreshing and creamy, lychee seems a little bit less rich and creamy, but more watery. In some certain degree, lychee tastes mildly sweet and sour while you cannot find that taste from rambutan.
Normally, rambutan can only be eaten fresh without any processing and cooking. However, lychee can be made into jelly, pudding, soup, or even used in main course.
To sum up,
Both rambutan and lychee are awesome in the way that it tastes sweet and yummy and support our body and health thanks to their rich vitamins and minerals. Personally, I prefer rambutan. I like its refreshness and it can quench my thirst, especially during the very hot days. But I still do like sweet soup with lychee because you can actually add ice to the soup and make it the perfect kind of desserts for the summer.
How about you? Which one do you like better? Lychee vs rambutan? I know this is such a hard game to find a winner, because they are all nature beauties in terms of taste, and health benefits. Let me know how you feel about these 2 kinds of fruits. I am eager to know more about it.