Exotic Fruit Report, No. 8

It’s durian season in Thailand, which probably merits a post of itself, though right now I am just enjoying eating durian every day and mulling over the possibilities of a durian and coffee diet. Mangosteens have returned, mangoes are plentiful and cheap, and there are enormous maroon lychees. The return of the rainy season is good for fruit. A few stranger things are about: snake fruit have reappeared after a few months, custard apples are around, and from time to time you run across this thing, the santol:


The santol is evidently cultivated in the Philippines. In Thai, it’s a krathon (กระท้อน) or a sathon (สะท้อน). If you cut it open, it looks like this:


And the white very quickly turns reddish-brown:


The taste is tart: imagine halfway between and apple and an orange, take away the sweetness, and you’re almost there. The texture is a little custard-like, a bit like a mangosteen. It is not the most delicious thing in the world; perhaps it’s not actually ripe yet? These are the sort of just desserts one consumes if one is learning about fruit from Wikipedia.

Exotic Fruit Report: Sapodilla Edition

The end of the rainy season is a weirdly dull time for fruit. Mangoes still aren’t ripe, mangosteens are mostly gone, longans and langsats aren’t as common. There are a lot of citrus fruits available, and rambutans seem to be returning. Also apples.

Here’s what we have today:


The things in the bag on the left (which look suspiciously like olives) are Preserved Elaeocarpus. I bought that at 7/11 when the fruit situation was looking particularly dire. As you might expect from fruit in a bag bought at 7/11, it’s terrible. Elaeocarpus is like a big olive; “preserved” in this case means that they’re in a sugary vinegar. I have no idea what they are supposed to taste like, though you do see them around; they generally seem to be preserved.

The fruit in the upper right of that picture was labeled “sapodilla” in English and “ละมุดธรรมดา” in Thai (which Google Translate has as “common sapodilla,” who knows); the one below it was labeled a “Malay sapodilla plum” in English and “ละมุดมาเลย์” in Thai (Google: “Malay sapodilla”). Wikipedia only recognizes a single sapodilla; the Malay sapodilla seems to be a hybrid from Malaysia designed to grow faster and sweeter than other sapodillas. The common sapodilla might be the standard Thai sapodilla? You see it around fairly often, the Malays don’t seem to be quite as common.

When you cut them open, you find a small number of black seeds:


It’s a little like (though smaller than) a Mexican mamey, to which sapodillas are related. The skin is a little thicker than that of a kiwi; you can eat it, though it’s not the most pleasant. The taste on them is like a slightly floral pear; the texture is roughly the same as a soft pear. They’re pretty good; the Malay might be a little sweeter, though it’s hard to tell much of a difference. They can also be juiced; the juice is very similar to pear juice.

Next time: sugar apples.

Exotic fruit report

Okay, it’s been a while since we had one of these, so it’s time for a report on fruit. First up we have longans:


These don’t seem especially exotic since we could find them in Queens, where they seemed like the boring cousin of lychees. But Harriet goes through an astonishing number of these, and lychees aren’t in season right now. I think longans are going out of season themselves; more often lately you see langsat, which look very similar although the clusters are tighter and the fruit’s a little bigger, kind of like tree-borne potatoes. Langsat turn out to taste very different – more like a grapefruit.

Next up we have snake fruit, or salak:


This is evidently originally from Indonesia; it looks like a cactus, but it’s from a palm tree. It comes in bunches; it has spines. Getting the individual pods out can be a little tricky because the snake fruit quite sensibly does not want to be eaten. They look like this:


If you manage to peel the husk off (starting at the tip makes this a little easier), you’ll find two or three little pods inside:


This is what you eat. It’s a lot of trouble to get this far, and these pods do have a fairly large and inedible pit in them, so this might be a little underwhelming. You can actually buy packaged pods like this, which is probably more sensible. But the fruit’s pleasant with a taste something like a teetotaling rum raisin.

Our gac

We bought a gac the other day. Here’s what it looked like:


(You can also use this opportunity to learn the Thai names of the week and their colors from Harriet’s table.)

Gac is a smaller variety of jackfruit (some details here) more commonly found in Vietnam. I’d been looking for one since trying gac juice at the Bang Nam Pheung floating market in Samut Prakan, which we thoughtfully failed to get any pictures of, so you’ll have to imagine how wonderful it was. But gac juice was really nice. So when I saw a gac for sale next to the shoe repair guy, I bought one. It’s kind of squishy, like a slightly deflated football that got a cactus with child.

When you cut it open it looks like this:


It’s an extremely dramatic fruit inside! Unfortunately it doesn’t really live up to that in taste: it’s kind of bland, a little like a softball, and the seeds that I cut open actively taste bad. The gac juice we had must have been heavily sweetened. It’s possible that this one isn’t ripe; certainly I wouldn’t know. Right now I am soaking the flesh and seeds with some rice to make xôi gấc, though who knows how that will turn out.