Dessert from your garden



Rambutan is a fleshy fruit, rich in Vitamin C and B

Rambutan is a close cousin of the litchi fruit, but not as well-known. It is a member of the Sapindaceae family and resembles litchi, except for its long, flesh coloured spines. It's eaten after tearing the rind open, or cutting it around the middle and pulling it apart. The rind does not cling to the flesh which is pearly white, juicy and sweet with a sub-acid flavour. There is a single seed inside.

Popular fruit

Rambutan is native to Malaysia and is commonly cultivated throughout the archipelago and India. Rambutan ( Nephelium lappaceum) is an evergreen tropical tree which reaches a height of 50 to 80 feet and has a straight trunk, with a dense spreading crown. There are both male and female trees and only female trees bear fruit. It grows best in deep, clay-loam or sandy loam rich in organic matter with proper drainage.Rambutan is usually propagated by seeds. The seeds taken from the fruit, after thorough washing, may be planted horizontally with the flattened side downward so that the seedling grows straight and has a normal, strong root system. Seeds will germinate in nine to 25 days. Rambutan trees bear fruit in five-six years, but the ratio of female to male trees is 5 : 7. Male trees are eliminated once they bear flowers. Vegetative propagation by layering or grafting is rarely practised as such plants die long before separation from the mother tree. Mulching and irrigation are done as needed in the dry season. Light pruning strengthens the tree.In India, flowering occurs from late March to early May and the fruits mature from June to October. Generally, shoots that bear fruits one year will put out new growth and bloom and bear fruit the next year. In other words, biennial bearing is rare in rambutan.While harvesting, the entire fruit cluster must be cut from the branch. If single fruits are picked, they should be snapped off with a piece of the stem attached, so as not to rupture the rind. Fruits must be handled carefully to avoid bruising and crushing. They must be kept dry and well-ventilated to prevent them from getting spoilt. The peeled fruits are occasionally stewed as dessert.Fresh rambutan contains a substantial amount of Vitamin C and B, minerals like calcium, iron and phosphorus and fibre. The colourful fruits are frequently used in displays with flower and fruit arrangements.Medicinally, the fruit is astringent and is taken to relieve diarrhoea and dysentery. In Malaysia, the dried fruit rind is sold in drugstores and used in local medicine.JACOB VARGHESE

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