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Keramu is small in size, averaging 2-4 centimeters in length, and is oblong to oval in shape with a curved center tapering to slightly pointed ends. The black skin is firm, dry, smooth, and matte, and as the fruit matures, the skin will wrinkle across the surface. Underneath the skin, the yellow flesh is thin, may be tinged with pale red hues, and is adhered tightly to a large, slippery, light brown to cream-colored seed. Keramu is extremely hard when raw, but when cooked, the flesh swells, developing a soft, creamy consistency with a savory, balanced, sweet and sour flavor.
Keramu is available in the late winter through spring.
Keramu, botanically classified as Dacryodes rostrata, are small fruits found growing on the branches of an evergreen tree that can reach 20-40 meters in height and belongs to the Burseraceae family. Located on the island of Borneo, Keramu grows wild in forests throughout Kalimantan and is considered a rare, specialty fruit due to the scarcity of mature trees. Keramu is most commonly cooked prior to consumption in order to soften the firm flesh and is favored by locals for its tangy flavor and creamy consistency.
Keramu contains potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Keramu is best suited for cooked applications such as boiling. The fruit is extremely firm when ripe and needs to be placed in boiling water for 5-10 minutes in order to soften for consumption. Before boiling, some chefs choose to peel portions of the skin giving the fruit a zebra-like striping as they believe it will create even softening during the cooking process. It has also been said that sucking on the fruit or placing it in the cheek for the same amount of time will help soften the flesh as well. Once cooked, Keramu is typically consumed as a stand-alone snack or is sprinkled with salt, sugar, or honey for added flavor. It can also be mixed in with rice dishes using complimentary flavors of soy sauce, cilantro, and coriander, or stirred into porridge. Keramu will keep for a couple of weeks when stored in an airtight container.
In Borneo, Keramu is harvested by locals climbing up the trees and removing the branches that bear fruit. Some harvesters even choose to cut down the whole tree to access the fruits. This process of removing the trees from the wild has caused the variety to become very scarce in the forests. To prevent habitat loss and the trees from becoming extinct, efforts are being made to replant the cut-down trees and increase cultivation in order to continue harvesting the fruit and provide food for wildlife as birds and primates also utilize the fruit as a food source.
Keramu is native to Borneo, specifically to the forests throughout Kalimantan and have been growing wild since ancient times. Today the fruit is localized to the island and is found at select fresh markets.