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Tropical Fruits

Mango
East Java has earned the reputation of being the nation's fruit bowl. It is particularly known for its apples and mangoes which are now being exported if there is an abundant yield. Mangoes, however, are very popular fruit and this counts for the whole nation. Topping the list of a great variety here is the famous Mangga Arum Manis which grows very well on East Java soil. Whole areas around Probolinggo, Pasuruan, have been converted into mango plantations. When in season which falls mostly in the hottest and driest period of the year, Arum Manis is transported by trainload to destinations scattered over the entire island of Java. But the bulk is still going to the capital, Jakarta, which, with a population of more than 8 million is still the largest consumer.

Arum Manis is a darkgreen mango even when ripe. Its flesh is at times lemon and in another variety deep orange. The Arum Manis flavor, however, is unmistakable in charac ter which another mango type has not been able to equal yet. Its sweetness borders on nectar sometimes without a cloying after taste. There are three popular mango varieties in this country. The much sought after Arum Manis, Manalagi and Golek. Manalagi is a newer mango kind also of a very sweet flavor. It is only somewhat smaller than the two other types. Golek is the largest mango variety whose sweetness does not come up to par with that of Arum Manis and Manalagi. Even so, the fruit is economically a winner because of its fleshy contents. Although the mango has been around for centuries in this country, the fruit was originally from India. From tales still alive to this day, one may safely assume that the fruit made its entree during the Hindu period in this country. The legend about the mango in the region of Pasuruan was undoubtedly born in those days, a tale persisting in the belief that the fruit is a reincarnation of the deity P rajapati.

Improvement in the local horticultural techniques benefited the East Java fruit growers who saw their crop yields growing each year. 1983 went down in the annals of the Regional Government as a lucky year for mango export. Most of the fruit export is destined for Singapore which distribute it again to other places on the globe. One of the stumbling blocks in the tropical fruit export is packaging. Tropical fruit especially needs careful packing since many fruit varieties spoil and bruise easily.

Mangoes of a lesser type are legion in the country. Some of the names are, Egg Mango (mangga telur), Mango Indramayu, Mango Kwini, too many to be named here. The most dominating feature of these mangoes are that its flesh incorporates a network of fibrous strings which are in the habit of getting stuck in between one's teeth. These mangoes are also quite cheaper. One type, known as Mango Kwini in the province of North Sulawesi, and the southern part of the province of North Sumatera spreads a penetrating and stifling odor when it is ripe. The kind almost always gives itself away in households who have a few in stock. Apart from the apalling odor it emits, Mango Kwini's flavor is actually quite pleasant to the taste. The fruit is rather large and round of shape. The skin is of a dirty green speckled with black spots. The fruit grows on all islands of the archipelago. The Egg Mango is an attractive looking fruit. When it is ripe, the fruit turns bright orange. The Egg Mango, so called because of its shape like an egg, is smallish in shape. It is one of the most reasonable priced mangoes everywhere in the land.

Apples (Males Sylvestris)
Apples in Indonesia
Apples are grown in this part of the world, indeed. To be more precise, they are grown in East Java in the mountain region of Malang and Batu. The first apple tree sprouted up decades ago when a Dutchman with a green thumb tried to grow a four-season plant in a wholly different climate and on different soil too. Malang see-me to have the right temperature for apple growing. Situated on a level of 700-800 meter above sea surface, the first trees were doing surprisingly well despite the tropical climate. There was a large difference though between the European apple and his Malang grown sister, which became all too apparent when the first fruits were reaped. The apples were reportedly too sour for consumption. For a while people in Malang regarded the apple tree as a decorative shrub to have in the garden. The fruits went to waste usually as they were soon declared as quite inedible fruit. In several instances reports repeated that apple trees in other parts of the region were not even bearing fruits at all.

After world war 11 and after the country gained independence from the Dutch more people became interested in apple cultivation. Growth expanded considerably compared with the few and far in between shrubs from before the war. But the Malang apple remained a very unpopular fruit among Indonesians who clamored more for the imported stuff which was sweet and juicy. In time apple farmers were introduced to newer agricultural techniques which transformed the sour Malang apple into a fruit of refreshing taste and of a crunchy consistency. The people of Malang and thereabouts were plain delighted. Soon more apple orchardes were started, not only in Malang. The village of Batu followed suit and the uplands of Pasuruan, Mojokerto, Probolinggo, Ponorogo, Nganjuk, Magetan and further away, Madiun.

Malang still produces the largest yield with an annual crop of averagely 203.000
ton. A ministerial decree banning the import of foreign fruits that was issued in the early ens, reportedly drove up the apple crop in East Java. Apples from East Java are now in great demand with juice producents, bakeries, and everyday people since the homegrown fruits bear reasonable pricetags. With local apple consumption ever on the upswing, present crop yields are never enough to boost the country's export figures of local apples.

Avocado (Persea Americana Milll)
Avocado, once a fruit that came hardly to the attention of the local people because of its availability to anybody, ranks now in an exalted state because of its multitudal value to the sophisticated tongue and those of simpler tastes. Avocado in international cuisine whose following is growing rapidly among affluent Indonesian householders, has elevated this once lowly fruit to its present levels. Before international lunching and dining became a natural activity as it is today, the avocado was merely regarded as a cheap but nice fruit to make juice from. In the Minahasa, North Sulawesi, where the majority of the population is of Christian faith, more abuse is inflicted on this easily grown fruit with many possibilities. Pig farmers were known to feed avocado to their fare since the fruit never fetched a price worth mentioning on the market. Trees were not actually planted then. They happened to be there by nature. Avocado nowadays are specially raised for export in East Java. The bulk of the crop is reportedly destined for Singapore.

Citrus Varieties (Citrus Reticulata Blanco)
A great variety of the citrus family is represented in East Java and to a lesser degree, also West Java. Called 'jeruk keprok', meaning in the region's jargon "bashed in lemon,. this type of mandarin with crumpled skin has been a household word in East Java since centuries, perhaps. These mandarins are a very close image of the Chinese mandarins on sale in Hong Kong at around Chinese New Year. One can only assume their place of origin since research in this field is at the moment non-existent. The East Java Mandarin, though, has now undergone several crossing which has improved its outer ooks. Instead of the puckered, crumpled skin, the fruit now appears to sport a smooth satin like peel that no longer turns orange when the fruit ripens on the tree. Instead, the skin retains its luscious green color right through the ripening process. Beside the mandarin, there is "Jeruk mania", a relative of the Spanish orange of the same flavor, but less sweet. It is in season together with the mandarins when real hot weather when its juice colors most drinks in eating establishments. In West Java this variety has a sister going by the name 'jeruk Garut' (orange from Garut). Garut is a small place in the highlands of West Java which grows several citrus varieties, among others this green orange. Unlike the imported oranges, the Garut orange remains freshly green on the outside and so do several other citrus kinds in Indonesia.

The lemon family in this country follows an interesting line. On top is the 'jeruk nipis', a close relative of the western lemon which is three times larger in size and colored pale lemon. The local lemon is a very round citrus kind whose skin does not undergo any change in the ripening process. The difference in outer looks notwithstanding, its flavor is the same as that of the western lemon. One citrus kind which is of medicinal value, and quite unfit for consumption, is a pear shaped lemon with a rough un-smooth skin going by the name of 'lemon suangi'. The fruit is used to ward off the "evil eye" in the northern region of the island Sulawesi. Its leaves often become the main ingredient in a traditional potion that is supposed to heal all kinds of ailments. The medicine is doing wonders with tummy problems. This lemon variety, however, is now on the list of endangered plants because of excessive use by the local populating in isolated places of the island. It is said that the'lemon suangi' used to grow in the wilds. Nobody really cultivated the plant. It had always been there when it was needed by medicine men. Now, the Lemon suangi' has become a rare fruit which is not easy to find. Another type in the same citrus family found only in the most northern area of Sulawesi, is really a teeny-weepy orange, the'lemon chui'.

Thorny Fruit (Dunio Zibethinus Murr)
Some of the tropical fruit varieties are shielded by a thorny skin. In this range come Durian (Durio Zibethinus Murr), Jackfruit and to some extent, Soursop. Of the three the thorns of Durian are sharpest. To get to the contents of this fruit one has to have an adroitness for opening the fruit. Durian is not skinned like other fruits. It is squeezed open by way of putting pressure upon the whole fruit. The durian will easily fall apart in segments of four to five when the fruit is ripe.

Controversy surrounds the Durian heavily whose unpleasant outer appearance only helps making matters worse. The pro's and contra's for durian are more in favor for the first group in this country where the majority of the population regard it as the king of all fruits. Newcomers from non-tropical countries usually react strongly at first encounter with the fruit as they try to grapple with the appalling odor emitted by the durian. There is no way to exactly define the durian aroma. Some people take it rather well, still others may take offense from the odor which is of a persistent and penetrating quality. Of the taste, some newcomers liken it as something coming close to heaven, Others commented on it briefly with a four-letter word. Europeans who came to like the fruit say that one has to aquire a taste for durian. At first the fleshy seed may not reach much further before the throat. Normally, it would take several trials before the taste for the fruit is finally established.

Jackfruit (Arthocarpus Heterophyllus Syn. Artocarpus Integra)
Another fruit, a real giant in size, also has a thorny appearance. The thorns are not too sharp as that of the durian though. Nangka, or in English, Jackfruit, is a seasonal fruit. The seeds enclosed in yellow meat, are a great delicacy for most people. jackfruit is also a local vegetable before the fruit ripens. It then becomes the main ingredient in a vegetable dish made with coconut milk called 'gudeg'. Un like Durian, Jackfruit emits a pleasant aroma when ripe. It's meat is of a golden color and quite sweet.

Soursop (Annona Muricata)
The last in the thorny fruit variety is Soursop (Anona Muricata L.), so called because of its immensely sour taste. Strange as it may sound, the fruit is in the habit of attracting black ants of the variety found to penetrate closed bowls of sugar. Soursop has to be prepared with sugar or sweeteners when it becomes a very refreshing fruit drink.
Unlike the thorns of Durian and Jackfruit, the soursop's skin is a pliable covering scattered overed with soft thorns. Soursop fruit is now cultivated in large quantities for the supply of fruit juice manufacturing.

Soursop is an easy fruit to cultivate because the tree does not require special soil. It is able to grow in coastal areas and also on higher ground unlike Jackfruit which is doing better on higher levels of about 700 metre.

Snake Fruit (Salacca edulis Reeinw)
Locally known as Salak (Salacca edulis Reinw) the skin of this fruit is a deead look a like of snake skin. Snake fruit is a dead look relative of the palmtree, but the kind that stays close to the ground. The fruit nestles in clusters a little above the root of the tree on a bed of long, thin thorns. Except for the thorns on the main nerves of the leaves, the tree is often mistaken for the sago palm. Salak palms thrive best on dry, sandy, soil. The fruit has a swet acid like flavor and is totally dry. Juice of snake fruit is entirely non-existent. The best snake fruit in the country is cultivated on the island of Bali. Bali Salak is the sweetest of all snake fruit with only a slight trace of acid on the tongue. The season of Salak is near the end of the year, or, at the start of a new year.

Pineapple (Ananas Comosut)
Another fruit available throughout the year is Ananas (Ananas comasut (L) Merr.) or pineapple. The pineapple tree is an agave like plant with pink leaves which grows without difficulty on all the islands of the archipelago. Before only grown for consumption in the country, Ananas growth has manifolded since the making of canned fruit was introduced in the country. Now there is fresh Ananas as well as canned pineapple available which is mostly earmarked for export. The best of this fruit is grown in Palembang on Sumatra which has earned the reputation back in colonial days. The Palembang pineapple is nothing much to look at. It is small compared with others grown in other parts of the country with a scrawny look about it. But its content is very rich in juice and glucose. The taste of Ananas from Palembang is just like sheer nectar and honey which cannot be said of other pineapple varieties here. Some pineapple are, despite the luscious golden color, of a sourness for which there is simply no word in existence.

Technology brought more than agricultural knowledge. It added industrial know how to pine-apple planters who discovered that pineapple leaves is not only a basic ingredient in cable manufacturing. Fibers of the leaves also make good ground material for cloth, although this kind of cloth has not been developed yet to the full as in the Philippines. At present it is more looked upon as an unusual novelty. Other preservation technique besides pineapple canning is converting Ananas into pineapple jam. This fruit jam is very popular with the majority of the people. Not only is it made as a spread on bread, it is also used as a filling in small butter pies known in the country's jargon as 'nastar.'Ananas jam used to be a homemade product. In our mothers' and grandmothers' days, housewifes pride themselves with having the best recipe for pineapple jam. Pineapple jam bubbling on the stove emits a tantalizingly pleasant aroma of the fruit with cinnamon and a few dried cloves which reaches all the rooms and carners in the house. Nowadays, pineapple jam is mostly a mass product prepared and bottled in factories, sprouting with unbelievable speed in industrial areas of the country.

Rambutan and Dukuh (Nephellium Lapaceum L. and Lansium domesticum Corr)
Two fruit varieties that will always be winners with the fruit loving people of Indonesia, are Rambutan and Dukuh when they are in season. The season of Rambutan follows closely after the Durian season, and almost simultaneously with that of Dukuh. Rambutan is a special fruit, in that, it is a fruit covered with a hairy peel in red and pink colors. Its fleshy seed is white and sweet. It should be noted that of all tropical fruit Rambutan has won over many non-tropical fruit consumers because of its exotic flavor and unusual appearance. This fruit has become a most sought after delicacy among the Japanese who are reportedly, going in a big way for exotic fruit which they import from the States. Next to Japan, the United States have squired a taste for tropical fruit. So much so, that tropical vegetable gardens and orchards were started to satisfy growing demands. According to writers' stories, in California one can get all the tropical fruit and veg one could wish for. Henceforth, rambutan will be available when the season
arrives.

In Indonesia, the rambutan cultivations has received a boost with the oncoming of the canning industry more than a decade ago. Superfluous Rambutan do not rot away like before. The fruit is being directed to such factories where they will be conserved in syrup prior to canning. Dukuh, or Lansa in East Indonesia, is a round fruit with yellowish skin that sometimes show dirty spots on them. The variety of East Indonesia, Lansa, has a much more clearer skin of a spotless golden color, There is obviously a difference between the two which is hardly noticable. Dukuh is perfectly round and Lansa is of an oval shape. With regard to taste, many share the opinion that Dukuh is much sweeter than Lansa. In spite of the fruit's popularity, many people refrain from eating too much of it
because Dukuh juice has been found to cause an irritating throat. One doctor said that together with Dukuh time, sore throats and coughs are also sharply increased. Health buffs have wondered a long time about this coincidence until they stumbled upon the above finding about Dukuh and Lansa juice. The fruit, when in season, is sold in clusters like grapes along particular roadsides and in traditional markets.

Jambu Air (Sizygium Aquem Merr & L.M. Perry)
A very pretty fruit is Jambu Air which comes in three colors. Red, white and pink. Before a Jambu Air tree starts to bear fruit, pink blossoms all but cover the whole crown of the tree. A few of Jambu Air trees in bloom will spread a dainty fragrance in the garden. Jambu Air grows quickly and easily. Once the seedling has sprouted roots it would need very little attention except for watering the plant regularly. Jambu Air is a very juicy fruit, though it is not exactly sweet or sour. The white variety which is less mushy is found to be sweeter than its colored sisters. Jambu air is used in local salad, "Rujak."

Mangosteen (Garcinia Mangostana)
The mangosteen grows under the dense foliage of a medium-size tree and is quite .hard to see unless one is directly berieath it. One tree does not produce more than a few ripe fruits at a time and the tree is hard to propagate. There are thus no mangosteen plantations. The card-red husk encloses six or seven symmetrical segments. Splitting the rind is tricky because it is hard and tends to crumble, but one open, the segments separate easily. There is often considerable variation in the degree of maturity of each segment. The larger, mature segments usually have a seed while the others have an embryonic seed so small and soft it may go unnoticed. The taste is delicate, subtle and deliciously sweet. Mangosteens are easily found in the markets and fruit stalls starting in September. Hotels serve them regularly, usually in a mixed fruit basket.

Sapodilla (Sapota Zaspotilla)
Sapodilla grows on a small, unpretentious tree found all over the archipelagoes. The fruit looks like a small, brown potato with smooth skin. The flesh is a rich brown color with a vague radial structure of a lighter color, and contains one to five large seeds. The sapodilla has a very sweet, sugary taste, which hints at maple sugar. It is soft, though not juicy. The texture is very slightly gritty, but not obiectionably so. The fruit can be broken open and the flesh easily eaten without consuming, either the seeds or the skin. Sapodilla must be eaten ripe, however, because the fruit contains tannin and a milky latex when unripe.

Pomegranate (Punica Granatum)
The pomegranate is a native of the Middle East but was cultivated in India and Indonesia already in ancient times.lt grows on a large shrub or small tree which has brilliant orange-reddish flowers. About the size of an orange, the dullred pomegranate has a tough, leathery skin which allows the fruit to travel well. The skin encases six paper-thin sepsums, each containing seeds that are individually encased within a transparent, pulpy capsule. The fruit and the rind are an effective anti-bacterial agent, and the dried rind isoften used as a relief for dysentery.

Starfruit (Averrhoa Carambola)
Starfruit grows abundantly on a small tree that is found just about everywhere in the low and medium elevations of Indonesia. The fruit has not been highly bred so there are a number of local varieties, differing in size and sweetness. Only a fraction of the fruit finds its way to the local markets. The translucent skin of the golden-yellow fruit is so thin it can be easily punctured by a fingernail. The crisp and juicy pulp is fragrant and has a tart taste. The fruit is firm when ripe and can be eaten raw-skin and all-once the tough edges of the five ridges are peeled off. Despite the slightly acidic taste, starfruit does not contain tannin and so is not astringent. The tree and the fruit are considered to have uses varying from removing cloth stains to curing hangovers, and it is very high in vitamin C.

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Information provided by Department of Tourism. Government of Indonesia.

 

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