Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Fruits of Thailand

Some of the fruits of Thailand
We have commented on how much we are enjoying the variation of fruits here in this tropical climate.  We have tried quite a few though there are many that we are yet unaware of.  Many of the usual and familiar are here - for instance: watermelon, cantaloupe and other melons, pineapple and bananas: many sizes - they vary in flavor, texture, and rate of ripening (some stay firm and delicious for two or three days and one kind goes from green to mushy in 24 hours or less). We have taken some photos of the more tropical and will try to describe some of what we have sampled.


Longan: this fruit almost looks like small potatoes on a stem.  The skin is leathery and you just peel it off with your fingers.  There are several varieties - most have only one semi translucent fruit in it with a larger seed in the middle.  This one has several small sections, the larger sections have a seed in them.  The fruit is mild and sweet.  The seed is very bitter so avoid biting into it. 


Rambutan :  This fruit reminds me of a sea urchin.  It is covered with red spines with green tips.  Unlike a sea urchin the spines are soft.  The skin is leathery and peels off revealing a clearish fruit with a seed in the center.  The outer part of the seed comes off with the fruit and does not add to my enjoyment.  The fruit is mild flavored and sweet.

Sala: The reddish brown skin with bristles.  It is a pointed oval and when it is still on it's stem it reminds me of a Christmas ornament with the pointed ends all sticking out like on a wreath.  The skin is thin and a little prickly - more crisp than leathery.  There are usually 2 or perhaps 3 sections inside.  It rather tart and has a creamy texture.  There is a usual a seed inside.  I read online that it is best to peel the thin membrane off of the seed before eating it - this was difficult.  I really liked this one.  

Mangosteen: This is Jay's favorite, it is the size of a large golf ball, purple or reddish, with a green topknot and a 'cute' five to seven petal mark on the bottom. It looks kind of like something like a scrap bookers stamp.  The skin is fairly hard and thick.  To get to the fruit you may use a knife and carefully score it around the diameter then pull and twist to remove the upper half.  You may also put the mangosteen between your palms and press until you hear it pop and hope you haven't squished the guts out. This should create a break in the skin and then it can be carefully pulled open.The fruit inside is white and sectional. The larger sections have a seed in it, not particularly edible.  Most delicious, sweet and with a combination of tropical flavors.  Careful with the outer skin - it will stain your clothes.


Papaya: This looks a little like an over grown butternut squash.  Yellowish colored.  Cut it in half lengthwise, the flesh is orange and it has a lot of slimy black seeds - remove them like you would from a cantaloupe. Peel it and eat.  Jay likes it with lime juice. A good one is really sweet and flavorful, the less good ones are pretty tasty too. The Thais like to grate it when it is not ripe and use it in a dish they call 'Som Tom'.


Mango:  This is likely my favorite. The mangosteens ARE delicious but difficult to open and small - Mangos are delicious and substantial in size. They eat them unripe - crisp and a little bit tart. Ripe they are similar to the king of peaches.  Peel with a sharp knife and cut the flesh from each side of the flat seed.  Very sweet, smooth, delicious on its own - often served as a dessert with sticky rice and sweetened coconut milk.

Custard Apple

Custard Apple: Jay said that this fruit looks like a hang grenade, I think it looks more like a rather smooth pinecone.  It is ripe when it gets a little squishy.  We just kind of break it open. The inside consist of sections that radiate out from the center.  The larger sections have a - you got it - a seed. There is a little liquid just under the skin, it is very sweet and granular,  It is aptly named a sugar apple in that it is sweet - the rest is not very apple like.

Santol or Krathon

Santol or krathon:  This one looks like a small round pumpkin (tan color).  The easiest way to eat it is to cut it into sections.  The inside is hard close to the outside (this part is tart).  The inside contains a few large seeds and is soft and sweet.    The seeds are not edible.  Pretty different but I liked it.


Durian:  This fruit comes with a terrible reputation.  Subways and hotels ban it.  It has the potential for having a very strong odor, the odor gets stronger as it ripens.  It is usually very large and more than rough.  Removing the fruit is quite the process, the fruit is in pockets throughout.  There are large seeds in it.  The flavor is one you either like or don't and I believe it can get very strong tasting.  They often dry or freeze it due the fact that many don't care for the texture.  It is extremely smooth and creamy, almost slimy.  I liked it pretty well though I will not likely seek it out.

Dragon Fruit
Dragon Fruit - There are a couple of varieties of this one.  The white variety is more common and often costs a little less.  They are really easy to prepare. Cut in half lengthwise and the skin just pulls off.  The flesh is solid but not fibrous at all. There are small seeds throughout - they remind me of a poppy seed muffin.  The flavor can be mild to the point of being flavorless but a ripe one is really good. 

Rose Apple

Rose Apple - these remind me of Japanese Pears.  Crisp and sweet - very refreshing. Not much in the way seeds or anything.

Jackfruit:  From the outside this looks a lot like Durian.  It is even larger and just as rough.  It has yellow fruit inside and I don't know how to describe it.  It is usually sold prepared - they remove the seed from each section, the sections are about 2 inches long and less than an inch across.  They taste pretty good, but I found I had, had enough
before I had eaten very many.

Food Cart with prepared fruit - pineapple, watermelon, rose apple  papaya

Watermelon - usually they are midsized, with a green rind.  They are not seedless.  They make an drink with them in the blender - with ice.  Very refreshing.

Pineapple - several different varieties.  They call one Hawaiian Pineapple, another is Thai Pinapple - the outside is rougher, there is a small variety that is really delicious.  We usually buy them all prepared by a street vendor they put 2 and half small pineapples in a bag and some sell them for 20 Baht (about 70 cents) or in more touristy areas you could pay twice that.

Fruit cart with whole fruit  / mangostein, rambutan, dragon fruit, oranges, guava, longon,, apples and grapes


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