Fruits to encounter in Thailand
Whether you’re a health guru, food blogger or simply someone that loves eating and trying out new fruit and you’re planning your trip to Thailand, stay tuned as you’ll soon be in the land of the heavens with a huge variety of tropical, delicious, and juicy fruit! Continue reading to inform yourself about the seasons, tastes and interesting facts of the most popular fruit native to Thailand, the land of the smiles. Enjoy!
Also known as the “queen of tropical fruit”, mangosteen is the national fruit of Thailand. Beneath its thick purple skin, the mangosteen’s fleshy white pods are deliciously sweet and succulent. It is very fragrant and has a slightly acidic taste that resembles a mix between the orange and peach.
The thick, soft skin of the mangosteen makes it easy to break open without a knife, exposing the pearly-white segments inside. This fruit is a perennial plant that can survive more than 100 years in the wild. It is labeled as a superfruit due to the high content of antioxidants it contains, and also because of its high nutritional value.
It takes up to 7 to 10 years for the mangosteen tree to start bearing fruit after planting it. It produces fruit two times a year, and depending on how old the tree is, mangosteen can produce up to 200 to 3000 fruit per season. The older the tree, the more fruit is produced.
Season: June to October
The rose apples you see in Southeast Asia come from a variety of species that belong to the Syzygium family, resulting in range of different colors – some with reddish-pink skins and others dark red, or a lovely pale-green color. Inside, they all look similar with a crispy-white colored flesh and some small seeds at the center. They have a delicate sweet taste that is very refreshing.
Season: March to May
The fruit of the langsat looks a bit like a tiny potato and like the longon, it grows in clusters, similar to the grape. In fact the taste has also been likened to a combination of a grape and grapefruit – a mixture of sweet and sour. Watch out for the two or three pips you’ll find inside, which are flat in shape and have a rather bitter taste.
Season: November to December
The fruit of the longon is sweet and juicy with a hard pip at the center. It is similar to the lychee, but has a milder taste. The skin is very thin – almost like an egg shell – and can be easily removed once you’ve bitten through it. Longon are also used to make Thai sweets, syrup, and are even used in some herbal medicines.
Season: July to September
The name ‘rambutan’ derives from the Malay or bahasa word for rambut, meaning ‘hair’, because of the many hair-like tendrils that sprout from the fruit’s rubbery, soft skin. While the outer skin is usually red in color, inside, the fruit is a translucent white or pale pink, with a sweet and slightly acidic flavor. To open up the fruit, make a shallow cut around its center and then pop open the top half, exposing the fruit inside.
Season: May to July
Regarded as the ‘king of fruits’ by many people in Southeast Asia, its distinctively large size, fetid smell and thick, thorny skin make it a fruit not to forget! Prized for its taste by many Asian’s, Westerners often find the sweet and rather pungent taste a bit overpowering. Nonetheless, if you are interested in trying something new, you can either buy it in its raw form – already prized from its prickly husk – or try it in many Thai desserts where it is often the main ingredient. By Asian standards, it is considered an expensive fruit with the price increasing quite dramatically for quality durian!
Season: June to August
Guava is available throughout the year in Thailand and like the apple the skin can be consumed along with the whole fruit. It has a mild sweet taste and is also similar texture to the apple. The core which is slightly softer and juicer can also be consumed along with its seeds. Guavas were introduced to Southeast Asia by the Portuguese and in Thailand they are called ‘farang’, which in Thai language originally referred to people from Europe, but today means anyone who is a Westerner!
Season: All year round
The name of this fruit in english resulted from the leather-like skin and prominent scaly spikes on the fruit exterior, resembling folktale descriptions of dragons. In Thai, it is named ‘Pitaya’. This fruit is oval in shape and looks a bit like an American football. It is sometimes compared with a kiwifruit because of its black, crunchy seeds, excluding the taste. The flesh of the fruit which comes in several different colors – including red, white and yellow – is rather bland and slightly sweet. Among the different varieties, those with red flesh are said to be the tastiest and sweetest. Also, if you’re on a diet, the dragon fruit is a great choice, because it is low in calories and is said to help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The flowers can also be eaten or steeped to make a tea.
Season: July to November
Jackfruit has a uniquely fragrant taste all of its own with a rather a rubbery texture due to the fact that the fruit inside is actually hundreds of fleshy, individual flower petals! As the largest tree-borne fruit on the planet, the giant fruit pods can reach up to 120 lb in weight, making them easily distinguishable in local markets. A single pod can be broken up into many different portions and sold separately. Jackfruit can also be used to make a number of Thai dishes including custards and cakes.
Season: September to November
Roselle is a species of Hibiscus, its fruit is a bright red ovoid capsule. It has a tart fruity flavor similar to a cranberry, rhubarb, and red currant. Its leaves are edible and the fleshy red fruit calyces are used for making fresh salads, tea, juices, jellies, jams, ice cream and even spices for cooking. They are most often made into flowering tea with honey or jams so that people can enjoy their sweet and sour taste. To add, It is known for its high nutritional and medicinal values and is a wonderful source of antioxidants!
Season: September to November
Butterfly Pea Flower
Native from tropical Asia, the butterfly pea flower has been introduced worldwide in tropical regions. The name ‘butterfly pea’ comes from the fact that this plant is in the pea family, but surprisingly it is not frequented by butterflies. Rather, the appearance of the flower (its expanded banner) looks like a butterfly. Its seeds are edible when tender and the flowers are most commonly used to make a nice blue infusion called “butterfly pea tea”. This plant is used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve mental health, and also has anti-inflammatory properties. When consumed, the taste is usually described as “earthy”, and is similar to the flavor of unsweetened green tea.
Season: All year