Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Carol Taylor’s Food Column – Exotic Fruits.

Welcome to this weeks food column with Carol Taylor who is going to share some exotic fruits and wonderful recipes to include them in our diet.

Carol Taylor’s Food Column – Exotic Fruits.

Good morning from sunny Thailand and it is getting hotter here now…interspersed with some lovely tropical storms and is that thunder loud much louder than I remember it being when I lived in the UK something to do with the heat I think…but it certainly makes you jump…

Last week’s post featuring an Indian curry was very well received it seems many of you like it hot!

I was going to give you some recipes for homemade curry powders this week however I don’t want to give you curry overload…lol I will save those for another time, this week I have a selection of Thai fruits a couple of which I could buy in the UK maybe you can let me know which ones you can get where you live???

Easter however is just around the corner and Easter Sunday falls on April 1st this year so I guess some Easter recipes it is next week …Who likes Hot Cross Buns???

I can’t remember the last time I had an Easter egg they are but just a distant memory… so if anyone would like to me send one it would be very gratefully accepted…lol

Star Fruit or Carambola as it is also known as is a lovely vibrant yellow and due to its distinctive ridges when it’s cut it resembles a star hence its name.

It is a very pretty tree and has lovely flowers which Lily always picks for me when she finds them on the ground… I usually put them in my bathroom sink which makes it look very pretty and smells lovely…

The fruit when it comes is also such a lovely lemon colour..a very pretty fruit…

The entire fruit is edible it has a firm, crunchy flesh and is quite juicy. The taste is likened to that of a grape.

It can be made into relishes, preserves and juice drinks.

Star Fruit Relish:


• 8 cups of star fruit, thinly sliced and any seeds removed.
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
• 1 tbsp whole cloves tied in a muslin bag and slightly crushed.
• 4 cups sugar
• 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg( optional)

Let’s Cook!

  • Wash and thinly slice the star fruit removing any seeds. Cover with the cider vinegar and stand overnight.
  • Drain the vinegar add sugar, salt and clove bag. Cook gently until the relish starts to thicken then allow to stand overnight.
  • In the morning remove the spice bag and reheat the mix after adding the nutmeg if used and bring back to the boil.
  • If you plan to store the star fruit chutney then omit the nutmeg as it will turn the relish a brown colour although it does add another dimension to the taste.
  • Put into hot jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy with some cold meats or on bread and butter.

.Thai Cherry…Although, it looks like a tomato to me that is where the resemblance ends.

The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked as can the seed of the cherry.

This recipe is for pickled Thai cherries.


• 6 cups of pitted and washed cherries.
• 1 lime
• 2 stalks of lemon grass crushed
• 4 pieces of dried ginger( galangal)
• 10 dried birds eye chillies
• 2 cups of vinegar
• 1/2 cup of sugar
• 1/4 cup of rice vinegar.

Either one large mason jar which holds 4 cups or 2 smaller jars sterilised.

Let’s Cook!

  • Zest your lime and add to a mason jar with lemongrass, ginger and chillies.
  • Put both vinegars, sugar and juice of the lime into a pan and on a medium heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved when the vinegar is warm add the cherries and cook for 4 minutes.
  • With a slotted spoon put the cherries into the jar, then strain the vinegar and pour over the cherries any remaining vinegar put in a clean bottle and use for salad dressings or marinades.
  • Seal the jar and leave for 4-6 weeks for the flavours to develop.


Some interesting facts on the uses of the bark and leaves.

Gum is obtained from the bark and chewed also the juice from the bark if applied externally to the back is said to give some relief from the pain of a backache.

Both the fruit and leaves also produce a green dye.

The seeds are used in the production of necklaces by the ethnic tribes in Northern Thailand.

This tree has hard, strong aromatic wood which is glossy and the branches are used for walking sticks.

A little warning:

This fruit belongs to a genus where most if not all its members produce hydrogen cyanide which is a poison which gives almond their characteristic flavour.

The toxin which is found mainly in the leaves and the seeds is easily detected by its bitter taste. The quantity is too small to do any harm but a very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten.

Salak fruit or snake fruit is a fruit which is very common in and around South East Asia.

A species of the palm tree it belongs to the Arecaceae family. The fruits grow in clusters at the base of the palm. It is also known as snake fruit because of its reddish-brown scaly skin. The fruit inside is sweeter than honey and sour like pineapple and very juicy.

Because the flesh is slightly acidic it makes your tongue tingle. The fruit grows around the base of the tree so often when you buy it fresh they can be covered with dirt a little like potatoes when you dig them up…

They are also quite prickly to the touch and there is a knack to opening them but like everything once you have mastered that it is quite easy.

This evergreen tree produces fruit all the year round.

It is quite beneficial as eye medication and is also known as the memory fruit.

It can be eaten fresh or cooked. It is also sold in cans.

It is also sold as candied fruit.

Unripe it can also be pickled.

To pickle Salak.

Let’s Cook!

It must be peeled and deseeded. Soaked in a water and salt solution for 1 hour, rinsed and drained.

Resoak again for 1 hour, then wash and drain.

Put in a vinegar, salt and water solution which has been boiled and cooled and let to stand for 1- 2 days before eating.

N.B. Make sure your fruit is very fresh or the jam with have a dusty taste..not nice at all.

Rambutin is one of the first fruits we ate when we very first came to Thailand and it is also one I was able to purchase in the UK.

Native to south-east Asia this lovely fruit has almost a soft silky feel when you touch it and looks very pretty. Similar to the Lychee, Longan and mamoncillo fruits it has a sweet tasting grape like flavour.

It has a leathery red skin covered with soft, fleshy spires hence the name which means ” hairy.” In Vietnam, it is called chom chom which means messy hair.

The peeled fruits can be eaten raw or cooked and are often used in fruit salads or made into a syrup to flavour whipped cream or cocktails.

Although grown all over South- east Asia, Thailand is the largest producer.

The rambutans are made into jams, jellies or canned in syrup.

Rambuten contains diverse nutrients in modest amounts. Vitamin C, Calcium and iron.

Like many other fruits and vegetables, the skin has been used to treat dysentery or chronic fever. The leaves are also made into a paste by mashing the leaves, adding water and squeezing out the extract then applied to the forehead this paste is also a great hair conditioner.

Boiling the tree roots to make a tea is also used to treat fevers.

How to open it?

Put your thumb nail into the skin and squeeze and turn the fruit the fleshy fruit will just pop out.

Rambutan Jam.


• 3 cups of peeled and seeded Rambutan
• Juice of a large lemon
• 2 1/2 cups of sugar.

Blitz Rambutan in the food processor …I leave mine a little chunky then put all ingredients in a pan. Bring to the boil and simmer on medium until the sugar has dissolved. Turn down and simmer 15-20 minutes until the mix has thickened. Make sure you don’t let the sugar caramelise.

Put in sterilised jar.

This is lovely instead of apple sauce on meats.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the Thai fruits I get here please let me know which ones you get where you live…

And don’t forget any unusual fruits or veg send me a picture and I will see what I can find out…

Next week it will be some Easter goodies including Hot Cross buns.

Thank you for reading and I would like to say welcome back to Sally after her short break from the blogsphere she said she had a fun time and I am sure we will hear some tales from Sally…

Until next week xxx

You can find my previous columns in the directory:

My thanks to Carol for another fascinating look at foods that may not be a regular part of our diet, but certainly, those that are available in shops in the UK would make for a delicious talking point at your next dinner party… Pass the Rambutan Jam would you darling…....

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:

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If you have missed previous posts in the Cook from Scratch series you can find them here: