Nephelium lappaceum

Other names: Hairy Lychees

Intro: The name rambutan comes from the Malay word “rambout” meaning hairy. Rambutans grow in large clusters on the tree. Excellent for decorative purposes.

History: Originates from Malaysia and Sumatra.

Shape: Oval to oblong in shape.

Weight/size: Typically about 5cm in diameter.

Colour: Vivid red or variegated coloured fruit covered in soft spines. A yellow variety is also available. The flesh is usually transparent or white in colour and contains one seed.

Taste: Sweet flesh with a mild acid flavour, which is very refreshing.

Buying/storage: Look for a firm brightly-coloured fruit that shows no signs of bruising. Its spines should be firm, without being brittle. Dehydration and rough handling will result in blackened spines, however the fruit is generally OK to eat. Fresh fruit can be refrigerated wrapped in plastic for five to seven days and may be kept at room temperatures for two or three days.

Preparing/serving: Rambutans are best eaten fresh. To prepare, cut around the centre of the fruit with a sharp knife, penetrating the skin only. Lift off the top half of the skin, leaving the fruit in the half shell, like an egg in an egg cup. It can be added to fruit salads, served with ice-cream or made into sorbets, jams, salads, cheese or meat platters, as an addition to either sweet or savoury kebabs or simply served fresh to follow savoury dishes.

Variety: Classic Red, R9, Rongrien, Yellow and Pink.