Achotillo, or Rambutan

Fifteen for a dollar. I keep expecting them to start crawling out of the dish.

Common and wildly popular in many parts of Southeast Asia —it’s widely believed that it originated in the Malay Archipelago— and Hawaii, rambutan cultivation has spread to tropical regions elsewhere, including Central America, the Caribbean and coastal lowlands of Colombia and Ecuador. Here it’s known as achotillo, and tastes like a cross between kiwi and lychee. It resembles the latter; they’re close cousins.

Known as a good source of vitamin C, recent studies have indicated that it’s also high in anti-oxidants, giving it a marketability in western markets beyond Asian communities.

Its thin leathery skin, either yellow or red, is easily split and peeled back, revealing the white, juicy fruit that covers a large seed. The variety pictured here and above —all of which will be gone by the time this post is published— is on the acidic side of sweet, but I’d hardly characterize it as tart. Among my recent exotic fruit experiences, I’ll rank it second to prickly pear.

Peeled achotillo, or rambutan, in Ecuador

As with many exotic fruits, it begs the question: does it contain aphrodisiac qualities?

I have no idea. I found several articles and blog posts that include something along the lines of “Rambutan is said to have aphrodisiac qualities” but offer not a shred of evidence to support the claim. One of those typical internet things.

No matter. At fifteen for a buck, a solid injection of vitamin C is good enough.

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And for the record: Today’s Pics du Jour, the 423rd straight, were snapped on 12-Mar-2015.



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