Rambutan: This hairy ‘tropical lychee is Hainan’s exotic fruit
Hainan is a tropical island where all kinds of fruits blossom year round. This island is truly a paradise for fruit lovers, as there are different kinds of fruits available throughout the year.
Most of the tropical fruits in Hainan are well-known to visitors. However, there are some fruits that are not so common outside Hainan. Many of them come in mesmerizing shapes and smells.
Rambutan is native to Malay-Indonesian region, and other regions of tropical Southeast Asia. In China, rambutan is one exotic fruit you can only find in Hainan, Yunnan and the Taiwan region.
Baoting County, a rainforest hinterland, is a large-scale rambutan plantation on the tropical island. The most famous town for rambutan cultivation in the area is Sandao Town (三道镇). Apart from Baoting, rambutan is also grown in Sanya and Lingshui.
Rambutans grow in clusters on evergreen trees. They are hairy-looking little red balls with hair covering their surfaces. The inside of the fruit is sweet white flesh with a single large seed at the center that you have to spit out when eating the fruit.
Rambutan is best in mid-season, somewhere around June-August, when the fruit is large and sweet. The color ranges from yellowish to an intense pink or red color. You can buy a bunch of rambutans in almost any market or at street fruit stalls in Hainan, and easily twist off the peel by hand.
When the fruit is ripe, the flesh separates easily from the seed. When not quite ripe, the flesh sticks to the seed and the fruit tastes a little sour.
Health Benefits: Rambutans are high in vitamin C, copper, manganese, and possess trace elements of many other nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and iron.