Ben and Jerry better watch out for mamón chino ice cream

A.M. Costa Rica file photo
These are the mamón chinos before processing.

An experiment is under way to see if those prickly mamón chinos can become the flavor for ice cream and yogurt. A handful of experts are betting the fruit can and hope that this will lead to commercial export.

The fruit is called rambután or mamón chino in Spanish. The Latin name is Nephelium lappaceum.

They are available in season, and they are hand fruit. A person bites off part of the red or yellow outer skin and sucks out the interior pulp to eat, being careful not to ingest the large pit in the center.

Costa Rica produces tons of the fruit, and there has been a continual effort to find a way to export the product. Some officials in the United States had fears that the fruit will carry the Oriental fruit fly.

If processed into ice cream or yogurt, that will not be a problem.

Agricultural experts at the Instituto Tecnológico Costa Rica, the Universidad de Costa Rica and the Asociación de Productores y Comercializadores de Frutas Tropicales de Corredores are involved in the ice cream experiment.

About 150 kilos of the fruit are being processed at a pilot plant run by the institute. Wednesday the processed pulp will be delivered to a commercial firm for a taste test.

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