Tropical fruit

Tropical fruit

Deutsch

Thailand

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Visitors to Thailand may be surprised at theastonishing variety of succulent fruits available, including not only familiar ones but others that rank high on the scale of gourmet discoveries. Many kinds of fruit are available throughout the year, while some make their much-anticipated appearance for only a few months.

One finds the full array of Thai fruits at almost anypublic market. A market with a particular large selection of Thai fruit is on Phahonyothin Road across from the entrance to the Weekend Market at Chatuchak Park. While it’s quite a distance from downtown Bangkok, one is rewarded not only by a great variety but also by low prices.

Traditionally complementing almost every meal, Thailand’s abundant fruits are served in a wide variety of ways. Fruit carving is a traditional Thai art and many kinds of fruit, in particular papaya, water-melon, pineapple and sapodilla, arrive at the table transformed by skilled hands into beautiful flowers and other shapes. Close attention is paid to thearrangement of platters of fresh fruit to make a selection as appealing to the eye as it is to the palate.

Thai fruits are also liquified in blenders to producenourishing drinks for a hot day, turned into icy sherbets, and used in Western ways to create excitingly different dishes like mango tart, coconut custard and rose apple pies.

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Tropical fruit / Strawberries

Thai name: Strawberry

Scientific name: Fragaria spp.

Season: December to March

Strawberries, like grapes, are normally associated with temperate countries, and many visitors who come to Thailand between December and March are surprised at the quantities of luscious berries available. Actually, they thrive at the higher altitudes in the northern part of the country and were one of the first fruits introduced by King Bhumiphol to the hill tribes as a substitute crop for opium poppy. Today fresh strawberries are plentiful during the fruiting season, as a visit to any supermarket will attest. As in the West, strawberries are also used to produce excellent jam.

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Tropical fruit / Durian

Thai name: Thurian

Scientific name: Durio zibethinus L.

Season: May to August

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Beginning in May and extending through August, the durian announces its presence in Thai markets with a distinctive, highly pervasive aroma. To Thais, as well as to many other Asians, the stink is a welcome odor for they regard durian as the king of fruits, a delicacy that is well worth the comparatively high price it commands.

Some visitors, on the other hand, are deterred by the potent smell and never actually sample the creamy golden flesh hidden within the spiny exterior – thereby missing one of the truly great pleasures of fruit eating. “The more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop,” wrote Alfred Russell Wallace, after eating his first durian on Borneo in the 19th century, and most of those who follow his example are likely to agree with him.

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Thai durians are noted for their subtle flavor and smooth texture, often winning over gourmets who have failed to respond in other countries where the fruit grows. Three of the most popular varieties (and there are several dozen to choose from) are cha ni,kan yao, and, perhaps the most prized of all, mon thong.

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Tropical fruit / Mango

Thai name: Ma-muang

Scientific name: Mangifera indica L.

Season: March to June

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Those who know mangos only from the varieties found in places like Hawaii, Mexico or the West Indies may think they have discovered a new fruit in the light-colored, delicately flavored mangos that turn up on Thai markets between March and June. More than a dozen different kinds are grown, many of themhybrids developed in Thailand. They have become so popular among mango connoisseurs in neighboring countries that nearly 3 million kilograms (6.6 million lbs) are exported annually.

Thais eat mangos in a number of ways, depending on the variety. Some types are traditionally served at the peak of ripeness, accompanied by a mound ofglutinous rice topped with sweetened coconut milk; the light yellow ok rong and the slightly darkernam dok mai are especially good in this way.

Other kinds, such as kiao sa woei are more often eaten as a condiment or in salads when the skin is still dark green and the flesh is white. Mangos are also pickled (ma-muang dong), soaked in sugar water (ma-muang chae im) salted and dried (ma-muang khem), or turned into jams and chutneys.

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Tropical fruit / Litchi

Thai name: Lin-chi

Scientific name: Litchi chinensis Sonn.

Season: April to June

There was a time when this famous delicacy was mostly imported from China and thus sold at very high prices. Today, however, many litchi orchards have been established in northern Thailand and local prices, while still above those of most other fruits, are not exorbitant. Several varieties of the fruit characterized by a sweet taste with a faint trace of tartness are currently grown, ranging from pinkish to dark red in color. Litchis come on the market fresh between April and June but are always available in cans.

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Tropical fruit / Banana

Thai name: Kluai

Scientific name: Musa sapientum L.

Season: all year

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Bananas are perhaps the most popular of all tropical fruits, and Thailand has about 20 different varieties, ranging from fragrant, sweet little “finger bananas” to large specimens with thick golden skins. The fruit is also among the most versatile and turns up at Thai meals in numerous forms besides fresh at the peak of ripeness.

When young and green, they may be eaten raw as avegetable with a spicy sauce; more developed, but still unripe, they are sliced, dried in the sun, and fried for a snack. Bananas are also grilled and soaked with syrup (kluai ping), boiled in coconut milk with salt and sugar (kluai buat chi), boiled in syrup (kluai chuam), smoked in the peel (kluai phao), and turned into golden fritters (kluai khaek).

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Tropical fruit / Longan

Thai name: Lam-yai

Scientific name: Euphoria longana L.

Season: June to August

Longan fruits

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grown extensively in the north, especially in the Chiang Mai area, the longan is much esteemed by Thai fruit lovers, who eagerly await the annual high season from June to August when piles of the small brown fruit can be found in markets throughout the country. The crisp skin is easy to remove and the white flesh has a texture and sweetness reminiscent of litchi. Thais generally eat longan fresh at room temperature, but the canned fruit is often served over ice as a dessert.

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Tropical fruit / Mangosteen

Thai name: Mang Khut

Scientific name: Garcinia mangostana L.

Season: April to September

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Bananas are perhaps the most popular of all tropical fruits, and Thailand has about 20 different varieties, ranging from fragrant, sweet little “finger bananas” to large specimens with thick golden skins. The fruit is also among the most versatile and turns up at Thai meals in numerous forms besides fresh at the peak of ripeness.

When young and green, they may be eaten raw as avegetable with a spicy sauce; more developed, but still unripe, they are sliced, dried in the sun, and fried for a snack. Bananas are also grilled and soaked with syrup (kluai ping), boiled in coconut milk with salt and sugar (kluai buat chi), boiled in syrup (kluai chuam), smoked in the peel (kluai phao), and turned into golden fritters (kluai khaek).

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Tropical fruit / Longan

Thai name: Lam-yai

Scientific name: Euphoria longana L.

Season: June to August

Longan fruits

 

 

 

 

 

Grown extensively in the north, especially in the Chiang Mai area, the longan is much esteemed by Thai fruit lovers, who eagerly await the annual high season from June to August when piles of the small brown fruit can be found in markets throughout the country. The crisp skin is easy to remove and the white flesh has a texture and sweetness reminiscent of litchi. Thais generally eat longan fresh at room temperature, but the canned fruit is often served over ice as a dessert.

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Tropical fruit / Mangosteen

Thai name: Mang Khut

Scientific name: Garcinia mangostana L.

Season: April to September

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This fruit is unlikely to be known to many foreign fruit lovers, but Thais are very fond of its smoky white flesh and look forward to the fruits annual appearance between July and October. The taste is sweet and at the same time slightly sour. One must be careful not to bite into the bitter seed. The main growing zones are the lower north, the east, and the south.

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Tropical fruit / Coconut

Thai name: Ma-phrao

Scientific name: Cocos nucifera L.

Season: all year

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Coconuts, available throughout the year, are inescapable at a Thai meal for in some form they figure in almost every dish. Coconut milk is a prominent ingredient of curries and soups, and the sliced or grated flesh turns up in many as well; it is even more ubiquitous in desserts, appearing as the basis of delicate custards, in the form of candy, as crispy strips cooked in brown syrup, and in countless other confections.

For a visitor, an especially exotic treat on a hot day is a freshly opened young coconut, whose tender white flesh and sweet juice can be enjoyed whenever the mood strikes.

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Tropical fruit / Rambutan

Thai name: Ngo

Scientific name: Nephelium lappaceum L.

Season: May to September

Rambutan fruits

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby red and covered with fine green-tipped hairs, the rambutan is one of the most attractive Thai fruits and also one of the most delicious when eaten at the peak of ripeness between May and September when it is most plentiful. Thai rambutans are noted for theirsweetness and considerable quantities are exportedboth fresh and canned; the main growing areas are Chanthaburi and southern provinces such as Surat Thani.

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Tropical fruit / Jackfruit

Thai name: Khanun

Scientific name: Artocarpus heterophylus Lamk.

Season: January to May

The jackfruit is the shape of a large melon. The fruit has a grey skin, and contains a great number of pips or kernels which are about the size of a pigeon’s egg. These, when roasted, taste like chestnuts. The fruit is yellow and succulent, of a sweet taste andpowerful smell. Thus wrote Simon de la Loubere, a French visitor to Thailand in the 17th century, and his description of the popular jackfruit still holds true. Thais eat the yellow flesh alone, with ice cream or mixed with other fruits and coconut milk in acompote. The cooked seeds find their way into many dishes.

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Tropical fruit / Papaya

Thai name: Ma-la-ko

Scientific name: Carica papaya L.

Season: all year

Economical papaya

 

 

 

 

 

Originally a native of Mexico, the papaya has been grown in Southeast Asia since the 16th century and the long yellow or orange fruit, rich in Vitamins A and C, is a well-established component of Thai cuisine. In perhaps its most popular use, green papayas are sliced into thin strips and ground together with dried shrimp, garlic, and hot chilies to produce a fiery salad called som tam.

The ripe fruit is often eaten with a few drops of freshly squeezed lime juice.

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Tropical fruit / Pineapple

Thai name: Sapparot

Scientific name: Ananas comosus Merr.

Season: April to June and December to January

The pineapple is native of Central America(Christopher Colombus discovered it along with the West Indies) and it has been grown in Thailand forseveral centuries, especially in the sandy soil along the sea coasts. Indeed, so widespread has cultivation been in recent years that today the kingdom ranks as the world’s leading exporter of canned pineapple.

Besides being eaten fresh or drunk as juice, the chopped fruit is often an ingredient of cooked dishes such as a spicy soup called kaeng khua sapparotand phat sapparot, which is fried pineapple with prawns, chillies, and onions. The main fruiting seasons for Thailand are April to June and December to January but some varieties are on the market year-round.

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Tropical fruit / Pomelo

Thai name: Som-o

Scientific name: Citrus grandis Osb.

Season: August to November

Pomelo fruits

 

 

 

 

 

This is the Thai version of a grapefruit, but with a sweet rather than a sour taste and considerably larger. A number of varieties are grown, with succulent flesh that may be pale yellow, orange, or red, and since the unpeeled fruit can be kept for around a month it is a popular addition to Thai meals. The peak fruiting season is from August to November, but some pomelos are available throughout the year.

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Tropical fruit / Oranges

Thai name: Som-tra

Scientific name: Citrus sinensis Osb.

Season: all year

Thai oranges

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is among the sweetest and the juiciest of oranges, with a yellowish-green peel and bright yellow flesh; the segments are generally eaten fresh or squeezed for their juice. The main season is September through November, but some sweet oranges can be found in the markets all year round. Tangerines (som khiao wan in Thai) are also grown extensively in Thailand and eaten in the same way as the oranges.

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Tropical fruit / Sweet Tamarind

Thai name: Makham wan

Scientific name: Tamarindus indica L.

Season: December to March

Sweet Tamarind

 

 

 

 

 

The fruit is, as the name suggests, a sweet variety of a fruit generally associated with an acid taste. After being peeled it is generally eaten fresh, though boiled in water it also makes a refreshing juice. Other, more sour varieties of tamarind are used in variouscooked dishes for flavoring.

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Tropical fruit / Rose Apple

Thai name: Chom-phu

Scientific name: Eugenia javanica Lamk.

Season: November to March

Rose apples

 

 

 

 

 

Bell-shaped, the rose apple has a glossy skin that is either green or pink and that is eaten along with the crisp, slightly acid inside. Its decorative appearanceguarantees it a prominent place on any fruit platter during the peak season between June and September.

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Tropical fruit / Guava

Thai name: Farang

Scientific name: Psidium guajava L.

Season: all year

Guava fruits

 

 

 

 

 

No one seems to know how the Thais came to call the guava by the same name used for Westerners, but perhaps the fact that the fruit originally came from Spain had something to do with it. In any event, the guava is one of the most popular fruits for snacks, eaten either ripe or when still green dipped in a bit of salt or sugar. In addition to the usual one with white flesh, another variety is bright red when peeled.

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Tropical fruit / Custard Apple

Thai name: Noi-na

Scientific name: Annona squamosa L.

Season: June to September

Custard apples

 

 

 

 

 

Also known as sugar apple, this fruit has a lumpy green skin covering masses of sweet, scented white flesh: in most varieties the fruit can easily be divided into two pieces by hand and the creamy flesh eaten with a spoon. Custard apples also form the base for a delicious ice cream, served in Thai restaurants. The main growing areas are the north-central provinces such as Phetchabun and Nakhon Ratchasima, and the peak fruiting season lasts from June to September.

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Thailand / Tropical fruit / Sapodilla

Thai name: La-mut

Scientific name: Achras sapota L.

Season: September to December

Sapodilla fruits

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhat resembling a small brown mango in shape, the sapodilla is grown in several widely scattered provinces, among them Chonburi, Sukhothai, Nakhon Sawan and Nakhon Si Thammarat. The fruit is eaten when ripe. After the peel is removed, the firm reddish-brown flesh is sliced into pieces which are often carved into decorative shapes.

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Tropical fruit / Jujube

Thai name: Phutsa

Scient. name: Zizyphus mauritiana Lamk.

Season: August to February

Grown extensively in central and eastern Thailand, the small, round, sweet fruit is usually eaten fresh but is also processed for juice or dried.

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Tropical fruit / Watermelon

Thai name: Taeng-mo

Scientific name: Citrullus vulgaris schard

Season: October to March

Watermelon by the slice

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet and refreshing, ruby-red chunks of watermelon are an essential part of nearly every fruit platter. In Thailand, pieces of watermelon are often dipped into salt before eating; the delicious juice is also extracted and widely sold as a beverage. Watermelons are grown in most parts of Thailand and are available throughout the year, though March is the peak of the season.

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Tropical fruit / Grapes

Thai name: A-ngune

Scientific name: Vitis vinifera L.

Season: September to April

Real grapes in a hot country like Thailand? By all means, and delicious ones, too, both red and white, and available all year round though the peak fruiting season is September through April. Actually, most of the varieties grown were developed at Kasetsat Agricultural University to thrive under tropical conditions and are now an important source of income for many farmers in Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi and Samut Sakhon Provinces.

Thai wine is also being made and while a bit sweet for most European palates is nonetheless steadily improving in quality.