To make sure you understand the correct taste of Rambutan, you will need to know what variety you have, as there are numerous varieties. According to Whitehead and his extensive studies, there were 144 varieties in a pre-World War II collection that was lost. Today, there are 11 important varieties, which we will discuss the taste of and description of each one and a few more, but these are only a few of the many available. First, we will give you a general taste then go into more depth with each individual variety.
Rambutan tastes sweet. The taste can range from very sweet as in the Lengkeng and Maharlika varieties to subacid and acidic (sour) as in the case of Tau Po Cheng and Bara varieties. Most Rambutan varieties have a juicy, firm, white grapelike texture.
When you read that Rambutan has a grape taste then this is only one variety. For example, the Maharlika variety common in the Philippines has a very sweet taste. Whereas it has been noted that some varieties are so acidic such as the Bara variety that they are sour.
There are two different coloured skins of Rambutan varieties. There are yellow skin and red or crimson skin varieties. See Figure 1 below for the different rind colours available resulting in different tastes.
If you are wanting to keep your Rambutan fresh longer than a few days, as Rambutan tends to spoil very quickly due to the sugars, then please read our article: Can You Freeze or Do You Refrigerate Rambutan?
Table 1.—Important Rambutan varieties along with their sources and individual characteristics (Please note: Aril is the flesh around the seed)
|Atjeh||Indonesia||Medium spines, the taste is sweet and juicy||Sweet|
|Atjeh hurung||Red colour skin with long spines, the taste is subacid and juicy||Sub acid|
|Atjeh kuning||Yellow colour skin with a sweet and rather juicy taste||Sweet|
|Ayes Mas||Malaysia||Yellow colour skin with a medium aril and sweet taste||Sweet|
|Azimal||Yellow to crimson colour skin with a thick aril and a sweet to subacid taste||Sweet to Subacid|
|Bara||Crimson colour skin with a medium aril and acidic taste||Acidic|
|Bingjai||Indonesia||Green skin colour with long spines and a ellipsoidal shape. A sweet taste||Sweet|
|Chompu||Thailand||Pink to light red skin colour with a medium-size fruit. The fruit is fair quality and sweet||Sweet|
|Chooi Ang||Malaysia||Pink to red colour skin with a thick aril and subacid taste||Sub acid|
|Gelong||Indonesia||Has a globe type shape with long spines and a subacid juicy taste||Sub acid|
|Gendut||Green skin colour with medium spines and an ellipsoidal shape with a sweet taste||Sweet|
|Gulabatu||Greenish-yellow skin colour with long spines and a globe shape|
|Kelip||Malaysia||Crimson colour skin with a medium aril and sweetish taste||Sweetish|
|Kepala Besar||Yellow to crimson colour with medium aril and sweet taste||Sweet|
|Kering manis||Indonesia||Green colour skin with an almost globe shape and long spines|
|Lebak bulus||Subacid and juicy taste||Sub acid|
|Lengkeng||Green or yellow colour skin with a globe shape and very short spines. the taste is very sweet||Very Sweet|
|Maharlika||Dark red skin colour. The fruit is rather small but very sweet with a melting aril and excellent quality||Very Sweet|
|Penang||Thailand||Large size fruit with fair quality. Due to the size, the fruit tends to have two seeds. A sweet-tasting fruit||Sweet|
|Peng Th’ng Bee||Malaysia||Crimson colour skin with a medium aril and sweet taste||Sweet|
|Pd. bulan||Indonesia||Medium spines with a globe shape|
|Rapiah||Green or yellow colour skin with a very sweet taste and small size||Very Sweet|
|Rongrien||Thailand||Medium to large size with fair quality and a crispy sweet aril||Sweet|
|Seematjan||Indonesia||Light red to orange skin colour with a medium-sized fruit and a sweet taste||Sweet|
|Seenjonja||Dark red colour skin with a small to medium size and fair quality with a sweet taste||Sweet|
|Singapura||Malaysia||Light orange to scarlet skin colour with a thin aril and sweetish taste||Sweetish|
|Sitang-kue||Indonesia||Ellipsoidal in shape with medium spines and a sweet taste||Sweet|
|Tau Po Cheng||Malaysia||Orange-scarlet skin colour with a thick aril and a subacid taste||Sub acid|
|Triang||Dark red skin colour with a thick aril and a sweetish taste||Sweetish|
|Ya Tow||Scarlet skin colour with a thick aril and subacid taste||Sub acid|
Unfortunately, there are so many other varieties of Rambutan due to the same common name being used for several varieties or the same variety of Rambutan being known by a few different names.
Table 2. – Other more common names of Rambutan along with there taste and characteristics.
|Queen Zaida||Dark-red skin colour with an oblong shape and a medium-size. The flesh is thick (38.76% of the fruit), with a sweet, and juicy taste||Sweet|
|Baby Eulie||Light-red skin colour with a very large thick flesh (39.92% of fruit) this fruit has a soft texture.|
|Princess Caroline||Dark-red skin with a small size and pliable rind. The flesh is thick (44.14% of fruit) and the seeds are small.|
|Quezon||Yellowish- red skin colour with a small to medium size and pliable rind. The flesh is thick (38.24% of fruit) with a sweet, slightly acid, juicy taste.||Sweet, Slightly Acid|
|Roxas||Dark-red skin colour and medium-sized. The flesh is thick (42.97% of fruit). The taste is juicy and sweet, with the flesh adhering to the seed.||Sweet|
|Zamora||Yellowish coloured skin with pale-pink spines. The shape of the fruit is oblong and small with a hard rind. The flesh is thick (38.29% of fruit) and juicy and sweet.||Sweet|
|Quirino||Yellowish skin colour with pinkish-red spines. the fruit is a small size with a thick (32.78 % of fruit). the taste is juicy and sweet.||Sweet|
|Magsaysay||Dark-red to black skin colour with dark-red spines. The shape of the fruit is oblong and large with a thick flesh (42.68% of fruit). The taste is juicy and sweet||Sweet|
|Santo Tomas||Yellowish-pink skin colour with reddish-pink colured soft spines. The shape is nearly round and the flesh thick (43.25% of fruit) with a small seed|
|Victoria||Yellowish colour skin with red spines. The flesh is thick, juicy and sweet.||Sweet|
|Baby Christie||Yellowish-red skin colour with silvery-pink spines. The fruit is large and flesh thick (36.41% of fruit).|
|Governor Infantada||The fruit is oblong and very large with a flesh that is thick (39.28% of fruit). The taste is juicy, sweet and slightly acid||Sweet, Slightly acidic|
|Laurel, Sr.||The colour of the skin is pinkish-red with a small fruit that has a thick flesh (39.76% of fruit).|
|Fortich||The colour of the skin is Yellowish-red and the fruit size is medium-sized. The taste of the fruit is juicy and sweet||Sweet|
|Osmeña, Sr.||The skin colour is Purple-red. The taste is juicy and sweet.||Sweet|
|Ponderosa Ferreras||The colour is a Crimson red along with prominent spines. The size is very large with thick flesh (35.73% of fruit) The taste is juicy and sweet.||Sweet|
How To Eat Rambutan
After making a cut into the skin with your fingernail (if you find it too hard use a knife to make a small incision), use your fingers to pull apart the skin.
This will expose one half of the fruit as one half sits in the remaining skin. Simply squeeze the skin that has the Rambutan sitting in it, and the fruit should slide out. Be careful to have something to catch the fruit as it is slippery and can easily fly out due to the juiciness.
Once out you can either cut into the fruit and remove the seed, then place the fruit into your mouth and eat, or just place the fruit and seed into your mouth, being careful not to eat or swallow the seed.
If you are interested in finding out if the seed is edible and how to safely prepare them then please check out our article: Are Rambutan Seeds Edible?
Just spit out the seed when you have eaten all of the flesh from around it.
 Whitehead. C. 1959. The rambutan, a description of the characteristics and potential of the more important varieties. Malay. Agric. J. 42: 53-75.
 Cultivation of neglected tropical fruits with promise. The rambutan
 Morton, J. 1987. Rambutan. p. 262–265. In: Fruits of warm climates
 Phenophases of rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum L.)
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