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Kokosan fruits are small in size, averaging 2-7 centimeters in diameter, and are round to oval in shape, growing in tightly bunched clusters. The thin, velvety skin is approximately 2-4 millimeters thick, ranges in color from green to dark yellow with brown spots, and is adhered tightly to the flesh making it difficult to peel. Underneath the skin, the flesh is thick, translucent white, slippery, and contains 1-3 large, cream-colored seeds that have an extremely bitter flavor. Kokosan fruits are juicy and tender with a sweet-sour flavor often likened to a blend of grapefruit and grape.
Kokosan fruits are available in the summer through early fall in the tropical climates of Southeast Asia. Depending on the region, the fruits may also be available for another short season in the winter.
Kokosan, botanically classified as Lansium domesticum var. aquaeum, are sweet-sour fruits found on large, wide-spreading trees that can reach over thirty meters in height and belong to the Meliaceae or mahogany family. Under the classification Lansium domesticum, there are several different varieties found growing in Southeast Asia with the three most popular being duku, langsat, and Kokosan. Also known as Bijitan, Pisitan, and Pijetan in Indonesia, Kokosan trees grow in humid, tropical forests at low elevations and the fruits are favored for their tart flavor, commonly consumed fresh, out-of-hand.
Kokosan fruits contain vitamins A, B, and C, thiamine, riboflavin, and some phosphorus, calcium, and iron.
Kokosan fruits are best suited for raw applications as their sweet-tart flesh is showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. In Southeast Asia, Kokosan fruits are most commonly peeled and deseeded by hand, or a hole is pierced into the skin allowing the flesh to be sucked out. The thin skin is somewhat difficult to peel and can be rubbed in between palms to help remove the skin in a timely matter. In addition to fresh consumption, Kokosan fruits are also used in desserts, candied, or are canned in syrup for extended use. Kokosan fruits will last up to four days at room temperature and up to two weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
Lansium domesticum is favored in Southeast Asia for its multi-purpose, zero waste nature and is utilized in both culinary and medicinal applications. Found growing naturally in the wild, the fruits are harvested by locals shimmying up the trees and vigorously shaking the branches, allowing for the mature fruits to fall to the ground. The fruit is then gathered and brought into town for resale at the market. Once harvested, the fruit can be peeled and the skin dried and burned to create an aromatic smoke to repel mosquitos and unwelcomed insects. In Southeast Asia, the flesh is also consumed fresh, and the bitter seeds that are removed from the center are often ground into a concoction that is believed to help reduce fevers and reduce symptoms associated with gastrointestinal tract issues.
Kokosan fruits are native to Southeast Asia and have been growing wild in humid, tropical regions since ancient times. Today the fruits are also cultivated on a small scale with some exports shipped to Hong Kong and Singapore and can be found at local markets and in the wild in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Southern India, Vietnam, Surinam, and Hawaii.