Jump to Section
What is Snake Fruit (Salak)
Snake fruit, also known as salak, is a tropical fruit that is native to Indonesia, but is also grown in other countries in Southeast Asia. It gets its name from the scaly, brown skin that covers the fruit, which resembles a snake's skin. The fruit is small, about the size of a fig, and has a sweet and sour taste with a crunchy texture.
Origin and Distribution
Salak sprouts in clusters off of the base of the palm tree that belongs to the Arecaceae family. It is native to Java and Sumatra in Indonesia, but is also cultivated in other regions of Indonesia as a food crop. The fruit naturalizes in the island of Bali, Lombok, Timor, Maluku, and Sulawesi. Salak is also grown in Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. There are two popular snake fruit plants harvested: Salak sidempuan (Salacca sumatrana Becc.) and Salak pondoh (Salacca zalacca).
Salak fruit is oval-shaped and about the size of a fig, with a distinct tip and a reddish-brown scaly skin that is tough and hard to peel. The skin is made up of small, triangular scales that overlap each other, giving the fruit a unique appearance. Inside the skin, there are three lobes (resembling cloves of garlic) that contain a white, juicy flesh with a seed in the center of each lobe.
What does Snake Fruit Taste Like?
Snake fruit flesh has a sweet and sour taste similar to a combination of apple, banana, and pineapple. It has a crisp texture, like an apple, but is much more complex in its flavors.
Salak is a low-calorie fruit that is rich in nutrients. Snake fruit is called the Fruit of Memory in Indonesia because it is rich in potassium and pectin, both important nutrients for brain health and development. According to Organic Facts, 100 grams of salak contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 82
- Carbohydrates: 21.7 grams
- Dietary Fiber: 2.6 grams
- Protein: 0.6 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Vitamin C: 8.4 mg
- Iron: 0.6 mg
- Potassium: 400 mg
It is also a good source of antioxidants and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Snake Fruit in Culinary Uses
Most snake fruit is eaten fresh but it can also be candied, pickled, juiced, canned, dried, fried into chips, boiled with sugar into a sweet spread, or made into syrup. The fruit is often used in desserts, such as fruit salads, smoothies, pies, and ice creams. It can also be used in savory dishes, such as stir-fries and curries.
One popular way to use salak is to make a jam or preserve. The fruit is cooked with sugar and water until it becomes a thick, sweet spread. This jam can be used as a topping for toast, pancakes, or waffles.
Another popular way to use snake fruit is to make a beverage. The fruit can be blended with ice and water to make a refreshing drink. It can also be mixed with other fruits, such as mango or pineapple, to create a flavorful smoothie.
How to Eat Snake Fruit
Snake fruit has a crunchy texture and a sweet, tangy flavor that makes it a popular snack. Here are the steps to choosing, preparing, and eating snake fruit.
Choosing the Right Snake Fruit
When choosing snake fruit, look for fruits that are firm and have a bright, uniform color. Avoid fruits that have soft spots, bruises, or blemishes on the skin. The fruit should also have a fragrant aroma that is sweet and slightly musky.
To prepare snake fruit, start by washing it thoroughly under running water. Then, use a sharp knife to cut off the top and bottom of the fruit. Next, make a shallow cut along the length of the fruit and peel off the skin against the grain of the scales. Be careful when peeling the skin, as the fruit has sharp, needle-like spikes that can be prickly.
Once the skin is removed, you will see three lobes of fruit inside. The yellow-white lobes of pulp have a very fine, film-like layer that can also be cleaned away, almost like peeling a boiled egg, and removing this coating can actually remove some of the astringent taste.Remove the seeds from the fruit by gently pulling them out with your fingers. The seeds are inedible and are usually discarded. Once the seeds are removed, the fruit is ready to eat.
There are several ways to eat the edible parts of the fruit. One popular method is to eat it raw, as a snack. Simply bite into the fruit and chew the flesh, being careful not to bite down on the seeds. Another way to eat it is to slice it thinly and add it to salads or fruit bowls. The fruit can also be used to make jams, jellies, and other sweet treats.
In Indonesia, it is often served with a mixture of salt and sugar. To enjoy it this way, sprinkle a little salt and sugar onto the fruit before eating. This will enhance the flavor and balance the sweetness of the fruit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to eat snake fruit?
The flesh can be eaten and has an astringent, sweet flavor. However, the outer skin and the seeds are inedible.
How do you eat snake fruit?
To eat snake fruit, first, you need to peel off the hard outer skin. Then, you can eat the juicy flesh inside.
Can snake fruit be eaten raw?
Yes, snake fruit can be eaten raw. It is usually eaten fresh, and the flesh is sweet and slightly acidic. Some people also use it in salads, desserts, and smoothies.
What is the English name for salak fruit?
Salak fruit is also known as snake fruit because of its scaly exterior. The fruit is native to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei, and it is also grown in Thailand, the Philippines, and some parts of India.
What are the benefits of snake fruit?
Snake fruit is a good source of vitamins C and A, fiber, and antioxidants. It is also low in calories and high in potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure. Some studies suggest that snake fruit may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, but more research is needed to confirm these benefits.
How to tell if snake fruit is ripe?
Ripe snake fruit should have a firm texture and a sweet aroma. The skin should be dry and not too hard or too soft. If the fruit is too soft, it may be overripe, and if it is too hard, it may not be ripe enough.
Where can you buy snake fruit?
Snake fruit is usually available in Asian markets or specialty fruit stores. You can also find it online or in some supermarkets.