Shoppers this summer will be surprised to see a new and strange-looking item in their produce isles. Rambutan is taking the US and Canada by storm and quickly being considered one of this year’s trendiest fruits. The sea urchin-lookalike is sweet and juicy; it’s very similar in texture and flavor to grape. HLB rambutans are available in close to 3,000 stores nationwide, which is a 50 percent increase from last year.
Rambutan is from the tropics and similar to lychee in appearance and flavor, with white pulp and a large nutty seed. Fresh rambutan has a bright red leathery exterior with soft red and green spikes, which give them the nickname “messy hair” in Vietnam. Originally from Southeast Asia, rambutan also grows in Guatemala and Honduras.
Rambutan has an incredible taste. Sweet and refreshing, like a juicy grape gummy, especially when eaten chilled. Rambutan is a fun and healthy fruit that is convenient to eat or carry along for a snack. If kept in the fridge, rambutans should be protected from low temperatures by wrapping or keeping them in the lower drawer. The cold will turn the exterior dark, which is fine, as long as they are consumed within a few days.
Eating rambutan is easy. Consumers can either hold it with both hands and twist apart at the seam, or cut lengthwise. Then either remove the top peel and eat around the pit or pop the whole fruit in the mouth, eating it like a cherry. Discard skin and pit. Even though rambutan is sweet, it has only around 10 calories per fruit.