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Matoa fruits are oval and measure an average of 5 to 7 centimeters long and 3 centimeters wide. The skins are tough and medium-thin with a whitish pith. They can be picked while still green, once they’ve reached an ideal size, or when red and mature with the occasional mottling. The pulp inside is translucent white like a lychee or mangosteen. It is soft and fragrant with a flavor profile like a longan or rambutan.
Matoa fruit is available during the monsoon season in Indonesia, which lasts from November to March.
Matoa fruit is known botanically as Pometia pinnata and is a member of the lychee family. They are referred to as a “typical fruit from Papua” and are called Ton or Taun on the island of Papua New Guinea, Buah Matoa in Indonesia, and Kasai in Western Malaysia. The tropical fruits can be found throughout Indonesia and are highly variable in their appearance, with fruits in shades of green, red, purple, and brown.
Matoa fruit is rich in vitamins C and E, which provide antioxidant and healthy skin benefits. The fruits contain high amounts of water and contain beneficial trace minerals.
Matoa fruit is eaten raw or used in beverages. To remove the pulp, pierce the thin skin with a thumbnail at its circumference and twist to pull the halves apart. The pulp easily pulls free from the skin and can be split in half to remove the seed. The pulp is enjoyed fresh, added to beverages, or preserved in syrup. They will store for a longer time than most tropical fruits and will keep at room temperature for a couple of weeks. The pulp is highly perishable and will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Matoa fruits are popular in Borneo and Java because former President Megawati encouraged the planting of sustainable, native Indonesian trees, such as the Matoa. In the street markets of Sarawak, Borneo the fruits are sold in bunches with dozens of fruits tied together and strung up with a string. The wood from the Matoa tree is used for furniture and house building.
Matoa fruits are native to Papua, the western half of the Indonesian island of New Guinea in the South Pacific. They grow on large trees that reach up to 18 meters tall and are most often found in coastal areas or near inlets and rivers. In some areas, the trees will produce twice a year. Matoa fruit is sometimes called Pacific lychee and grows on many of the islands throughout Indonesia and the South Pacific. They can be found on Vanuatu, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and as far north as southern China.
Recipes that include Matoa Fruit. One is easiest, three is harder.
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