Shoppers this summer will be surprised to see a new and strange-looking item in their produce isles. Rambutan is taking the US and Canada by storm and quickly being considered one of this year’s trendiest fruits. The sea urchin-lookalike is sweet and juicy; it’s very similar in texture and flavor to grape. HLB rambutans are available in close to 3,000 stores nationwide, which is a 50 percent increase from last year.
Rambutan is from the tropics and similar to lychee in appearance and flavor, with white pulp and a large nutty seed. Fresh rambutan has a bright red leathery exterior with soft red and green spikes, which give them the nickname “messy hair” in Vietnam. Originally from Southeast Asia, rambutan also grows in Guatemala and Honduras, where the Florida-based importer HLB Specialties sources them from.
Rambutan has an incredible taste. Sweet and refreshing, like a juicy grape gummy, especially when eaten chilled. Rambutan is a fun and healthy fruit that is convenient to eat or carry along for a snack. If kept in the fridge, rambutans should be protected from low temperatures by wrapping or keeping them in the lower drawer. The cold will turn the exterior dark, which is fine, as long as they are consumed within a few days.
Eating rambutan is easy. Consumers can either hold it with both hands and twist apart at the seam, or cut lengthwise. Then either remove the top peel and eat around the pit or pop the whole fruit in the mouth, eating it like a cherry. Discard skin and pit. Even though rambutan is sweet, it has only around 10 calories per fruit.
HLB Specialties’ unique 12oz rambutan packaging includes eating and handling instructions. It also has a fun cartoon character that is meant to entice children to try the new fruit. Shoppers can find HLB rambutan in the Midwest and East Coast in Wal Mart stores, Meijer, Whole Foods, the Fresh Market and nationwide at Trader Joe’s. Smaller retailers will also carry it in the New York and Quebec region.
Social media has been an especially helpful tool to promote rambutan, with close to 152,000 mentions worldwide of rambutan on Instagram alone. For more information, please visit HLBinfo.com, call 954.475.8808, and follow @hlbspecialties on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.