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The name 'rambutan' is derived from the Malay-Indonesian Language word for rambut or "hair", a reference to the numerous hairy protuberances of the fruit, together with the noun-building suffix-an. In Vietnam it is called chôm chôm (meaning "messy hair") due to the spines covering the fruit's skin. The rambutan tree reaches 50 to 80 ft. wide, and a dense, usually spreading crown. The tree does best on deep, clay-loam or rich sandy loam rich in organic matter, or in deep peat. It needs good drainage. It is an evergreen tree. Rambutan trees can be male (producing only staminate flowers and, hence, produce no fruit), female (producing flowers that are only functionally female), or hermaphroditic (producing flowers that are female with a small percentage of male flowers). Aromatic rambutan flowers are highly attractive to many insects, especially bees. Flies, bees, and ants are the main pollinators. Bees foraging for nectar routinely contact the stigma of male flowers and gather significant quantities of the sticky pollen from male blossoms. Little pollen has been seen on bees foraging female flowers. Although male flowers open at 6 am, foraging by A. cerana is most intense between 7 and 11 am, tapering off rather abruptly thereafter. In Thailand, A. cerana is the preferred species for small-scale pollination of rambutan. Its hair is also helpful in pollination where pollen can be hooked on and transported to female flowers.
Without the soft spines on the rind, the rambutan would resemble the lychee which is in the same botanical family. Rambutan is native to tropical Southeast Asia and commonly grown throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.It is a wonderful, delicious and nutritious fruit. The structure internally is quite similar, with a single central inedible seed and edible white flesh wrapped around it but the skin is the part that makes the rambutan so distinctive in appearance. The fruit is 2" to 3" long and oval but can be almost round in some varieties. From flowering to ripe fruit, it takes 90 days or more. The green fruits start to turn yellow and then red, sometimes quite rapidly. The ripe rambutan is typically red but there are some varieties that finish with a bright yellow color and some that end up with an orange blush. The flavor is pretty much the same as the red ones. The best fruit have little or no black forming on the tips of the soft spines. The soft spines, or spinterns, are safe to handle and lose a lot of water after the fruit has been picked. For this reason, to hold them for any length of time in refrigeration requires some sort of plastic film to slow down the moisture loss. The spinterns may turn black within days after harvest but the fruit inside remains quite fresh and tasty for several days or a week longer. If the humidity is high, then the fruit can be held at room temperature in a plastic bag that is not sealed but rather loosely closed. Rambutans are most commonly eaten out-of-hand after merely tearing the rind open, or cutting it around the middle and pulling it off. It does not cling to the flesh. The peeled fruits are occasionally stewed as dessert. They are canned in syrup on a limited scale. The fruit are usually sold fresh, used in making jams and jellies, or canned. In Malaya a preserve is made by first boiling the peeled fruit to separate the flesh from the seeds. They ripen only on the tree and appear not to produce a ripening agent
After cooling, the testa is discarded and the seeds are boiled alone until soft. They are combined with the flesh and plenty of sugar for about 20 minutes, and 3 cloves may be added before sealing in jars. The seeds are sometimes roasted and eaten in the Philippines, although they are reputedly poisonous when raw.
Around the 13th to 15th centuries, Arab traders that played a major role in Indian Ocean Trade introduced rambutan into Zanzibar and Pemba of East Africa. There are limited rambutan plantings in some parts of India.
I have compiled this blog because I knew very less about this fruit.
(all the pictures are extracted from internet)