August 7, 2013

Rambutan and Lychee: Comparing the Two Fruits

People often confuse the rambutan and the lychee because these are two fruits that have a lot of similarities. However, they are two different fruits. In this article, we are going to look into the two fruits and each of their characteristics. From these, you should be able to learn how to distinguish a rambutan from a lychee. The two are both borne by evergreen trees that nearly look the same, they are commonly cultivated in the same countries and their fruits are almost identical if not for the hairy attributes of the rambutan. Anyway, the two fruits are described in detail below.

The Rambutan: The rambutan is the fruit of a tropical evergreen tree that belongs to the Sapindaceae family. According to popular belief, the tree originated from Malaysia and Indonesia. From these two countries, cultivation of the trees spread to neighboring countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Burma and Vietnam. The tree also traveled as far as India and Sri Lanka. A certain species of the tree is also being cultivated in the Central American nations Costa Rica and Puerto Rico. This species is known as wild rambutan. Costa Ricans call it mamon chino. The rambutan is a non-climacteric fruit. What this means is that it only ripens on the tree. You can't pick it unripe unlike mangoes or bananas, fruits that you can pick unripe then leave in a corner to ripen. This isn't the case with the rambutan. You can only pick it when it's ripe.

Other places where rambutan is cultivated include Africa, Australia, Panama, Ecuador, Hawaii and the Caribbean islands. Ecuadorians call the fruit achotillo. The fruit is consumed in several ways. Aside from being sold fresh, rambutans are also used to make jams and jellies. In some instances, they are preserved and canned.

The Lychee: Like the rambutan, the lychee also comes from an evergreen tree that belongs to the Sapindaceae family. However, unlike the rambutan which is a tropical tree, the lychee can thrive in both tropical and sub tropical conditions. The height of a lychee tree ranges from 10 to 28 meters high. The tree is a native to Southeast Asian countries, Taiwan and China. The tree is also cultivated in several countries from all over the world. It's cultivated in Bangladesh, Japan, South Africa and in the states of Hawaii and Florida in the United States. If historians are right, cultivation of the lychee tree started in Malaysia, Vietnam and southern China. It was first introduced in 1782 to the West.

Lychee fruits mature within eighty to one hundred days. How long the fruit matures depends on factors like cultivar, climate as well as location. The shape of the fruit also varies. Some are round, some are heart-shaped and some are ovoid. Like rambutan, lychees can also be preserved and canned so they can be bought all year round.

As to the taste of the rambutan and lychee fruits, they are pretty similar. Their flavors range from sweet to sour, reminiscent of the taste of ripe grapes.

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