Are you are a fruit lover and thinking of heading over to Thailand? Then you are in for a major treat with the diverse, inexpensive variety of fruit that you can find practically everywhere across the country.
Thailand’s hot climate and monsoon season’s rain contribute to creating the fertile and well watered plains of the country which yield an abundant assortment of delicious, exotic fruits all year round, that will delight your eyes and tantalise your taste buds.
Not only do these scrumptious fruits help satisfy your sweet cravings but they are also packed with health benefiting nutrients.
Bananas, watermelons, mangosteen, rambutan, pineapple, lychees, coconuts, custard apples, jackfruits, longans – the list is endless and most of these fruits can be eaten solo, used to make thirst quenching beverages or are a key ingredient in a lot of Thai food.
Here are the fruity facts on just a few of our mouth-watering delights….
Mango – Great for the Immune System
Mangoes are probably one of the most widely eaten fruits and with their succulent flesh, unique flavour and fragrance and it’s easy to see why once you’ve tasted one. They are also rated as a top food to help the immune system, protect against cancer and help fight heat stroke.
Mangoes can be just peeled and eaten on their own, are the perfect ingredient for a thick fruit shake and are also often used in numerous delicious recipes such as mango and sticky rice.
Green Watermelons – Rich in Vitamins
Huge green watermelons can be seen all year round and have a gorgeous sweet and crisp reddish pink inside which actually consists mostly of water. This refreshing fruit is saturated full of vitamin A, B6, C, antioxidants and electrolytes, so not only is it a perfect choice to help prevent dehydration it also contains lycopene which is especially important for your cardiovascular health.
Rambutan – The Hairy Fruit
Rambutan, our famous ‘hairy fruit’ that looks vaguely similar to a sea urchin, is well worth trying and is often regarded as a ‘super fruit’ because of all its health benefits it has. These strange looking fruits need to be peeled to reveal a sweet and sour fleshy inner that is pretty similar to a grape, it is not only yummy but packed full of vitamin C and iron amongst an assortment of other important vitamins and minerals.
Mangosteens – A Sweet Treat
Mangosteens are a delicious dark reddish or purple waxy looking fruit with a soft white edible centre which is rich in calcium, iron potassium and magnesium. Research has shown that they contain many healing properties such as important antioxidants which are vital for our immune system.
So not only are they a perfect sweet treat on their own, great in fruit salad and other desserts they are amazingly good for you.
Papaya Salad (Som Tam)
Papaya is probably known best as being the all important ingredient in papaya salad (Som Tam) which is widely available at all the food stalls and one of Thailand’s favourite salads. Eaten as a fruit they are a bit of an acquired taste as they are nice but do have a very slight bitter aftertaste.
Papayas contain many health benefits including important enzymes which can help lower inflammation and assist in the healing of burns. You should definitely try the salad though as it’s a wonderful healthy cheap meal when taken with chicken and sticky rice.
Durian – The King of Fruits
A post about Thai fruit wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Durian, however unlike all our other fruit this so called ‘King of fruits’; neither looks or smells good! The Durian can be recognized by its thorny skin and very pungent aroma. I have to admit I have never tasted this fruit as the smell of it is far too off putting and reminds me of rancid old sweaty socks!
The world’s smelliest fruit has actually been banned from many hotels, public places and airports around Asia. However it is still a very popular fruit that contains a sweet custardy flesh, full of nutrients that is said to taste heavenly if you can hold your nose!
Dragon fruit has a deep pink and green outer skin which is cactus like and resembles the scales of a dragon. You need cut the fruit in half and scoop out the lovely creamy coloured flesh spotted with black seeds. It is a sweet and slightly crunchy delight with a taste that is similar to a cross between the kiwi fruit and pear.
Dragon fruit is jam packed full of goodness that is beneficial to your immune system, helps towards keeping hunger at bay and is good for your bones. They are lovely to just pop into your mouth and are also a perfect fruit to make shakes with.
The Coconut – Mother Nature’s Sport Drink
A lot of people question whether the coconut is a fruit or a nut, botanically the coconut is a drupe not a ‘true nut’ as like other fruits it has three layers whereas a nut only has one. The coconut has a very hard smooth outer layer called the exocarp, a fibrous middle layer called the mesocarp and the endocarp which contains the seed.
Young coconuts contain a delicious clear and slightly sweet juice that is both refreshing and full of electrolytes and has therefore become known as ‘nature’s sport drink’. The flesh inside the coconut can be eaten raw on its own, cooked or grated and made into make virgin coconut oil.
The health benefits of coconuts and their oil are outstanding and if you haven’t already got coconut or its oil in your life – you need to.
Coconut and coconut milk plays a major role in Thai cooking and can be found in many appetizing dishes.
So if you’ve got a craving for something sweet or just in need of a quick snack to tide you over, don’t just head straight for the nearest 7-11, take walk down the street to find one of the widely available fruit stalls.
Or even better, find one of the numerous vendors that make thirst quenching nutrient packed fruit shakes.
Author: Emma Greenaway