Langsats often get confused with dukus and longkongs. While similar in many ways, langsats differ on a few key points: they are smaller, possess the smoothest and thinnest skin, and their seeds are the smallest relative to their flesh. Langsats are not as sweet as the other two variants, either. Lastly, langsat’s skin has latex (whereas longkongs do not).
Origin of Langsat
Langsat originates in the Malay Archipelago. Its native range also encompasses Indonesia and Thailand, and stretches north the Philippines. Even today, Malaysia is the largest producer langsats, followed by Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. South Sumatra is especially prideful of the fruit, as the tree’s flower is the official flower of the region.
Not many countries outside of Southeast Asia grow langsats, although a few trees appear in Surinam, Australia, parts of the Caribbean, and a few Central American countries like Honduras. Because langsats have the reputation as one of the least appetizing fruits in the Meliaceae genus, few nations have taken much interest in its cultivation.
Availability of Langsat in India
Although the marble-sized fruit is significantly more popular in Malaysia and the Philippines, langsats still grow prolifically throughout southern India in the Nilgiri hills. Langsat season occurs from April to September.
Where to find Langsat in India
Langsats are not difficult to find in South India when in season. Vendors can seldom keep up with demand, and yet, its cultivation does not extend beyond a handful of regions in the south.
Some batches make their way north, but the fruit’s short, 3-day shelf life once picked makes it difficult to distribute. A few high-end stores import langsats and similar cultivars from Malaysia, but its supply cannot be predicted or timed. These imports will not be cheap, either.
Checking for Ripeness in Langsat
Harvesters collect ripe fruits by shaking the tree. A ripe, sweet langsat has no green color remaining on the skin, and will instead adopt a pale yellow hue. When ready for consumption, its smell is pleasant and aromatic. If the skin becomes golden brown with specks, the fruit may be at its sweetest; however, avoid fruits with brown skin with black flecks, as this indicates over ripeness.
Langsats should not have soft, overly pliable skin, nor the appearance of being water-soaked. The flesh inside should remain white and semi-translucent. If it turns purple or brown, it’s overripe.
As an unusual tip, choose the fruits with the most insects, as they gravitate towards the sweetest langsats of the lot.
Taste of Langsat
Though few people describe langsats as being tastier than lychees and longans, these fruits have a similar refreshing, sub-acid, sweet and sour flavor that best resembles pomelo. Some compare langsat’s taste as sweet like a grape and banana, but bitter like a grapefruit. Langsat’s texture is a bit firmer than a grape’s.
As is the case with most fruits, the freshest ones have the best taste. A langsat loses its sweetness once plucked, and it may taste bland and uninspiring if it has sat for too long. Those living outside of the fruit’s native habitat may never be familiar with a quality langsat, as the ones that appear in foreign markets are often sub-par, bland, and picked prematurely.
Nutritional Value of Langsat
According to the book, “Fruits of Warm Climates,” 100g of langsat contains the following nutritional values:
13IU Vitamin A
1mg Ascorbic Acid
1.1mg Phytin (dry weight)
Health Benefits of Langsat
As per the book, “Edible Medicinal and Non Medicinal Plants, langsats have several applications in traditional medicine throughout Malaysia, Borneo and Java:
--Pulverized seeds treat ulcers and act as a vermifuge. Amongst Malaysia’s tribe, the Sakai, crushed seeds treat fever. The seed and bark resin also treat inflammation and gastrointestinal disorders.
--The bark has been used to treat malaria, dysentery, muscle spams, and as treatment for scorpion stings and insect bites.
--Filipinos and Javanese burn langsat skins to repel mosquitos
Medical studies indicate the following health benefits of langsat:
--A 2006 study published in Phytochemistry affirms the seed’s benefits as an antimalarial.
--A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology shows the fruit and skin’s extracts fight parasite populations responsible for malaria, including strains resistant to certain pharmaceutical drugs.
--According to a study conducted by the University of the Philippines, air-dried langsat peel exhibited moderate antimicrobial activity
--As stated in a study published in Tetrahedron Letters, compounds in langsat’s leaves contain potent skin tumor promotion inhibitors.
--Langsats are a rich source of limonoids, known for their anti-cancerous qualities.
|Langsat's sticky white latex|
How to Open/Cut:
Open a langsat by peeling away the thin, leathery skin from the fruit. Because the skin does not adhere to the fruit, peeling is a relatively painless task. However, the skin will exude sticky white latex when peeled. Thus, prepare the fruits over a paper towel or parchment paper, and oil the fingertips beforehand. One way to reduce the skin’s gumminess is by dipping the fruit briefly in boiling water.
Langsats have approximately five segments, or, arils, that can be pried apart and consumed like orange slices. Most arils have large, bitter seeds, but some varieties have smaller ones, and a select few cultivars are seedless. These seeds can be swallowed in small doses, but keep in mind that they contain a minute amount of a toxins and unnamed alkaloids.
Langsats have a short longevity, as they go sour after a mere four days at room temperature. Refrigerating langsats extends their shelf life up to two weeks, but do not set the temperature below 12C or 54 F; the fruits spoil otherwise.
Langsat Recipe Ideas and Uses
Indians seldom use langsats in their cuisine, but the Malaysians often include the fruit as part of desserts.
--Can the fruit in syrup or candy them.
--Combine langsats with pineapple, mango and rambutan as part of a fruit salad
--Use the juice to make popsicles: add pomegranate juice for a good complement.
--Add the fruit on top of vanilla sweets. Use caution when combining with other flavors, as langsats are quite distinct.
--Add slices of the fruit with tofu and soy sauce-based dishes
--De-seed and blend as part of a gelatin or custard recipe.
--Add slices to Asian sweet soup recipes
--Add to salads, particularly those with cucumbers, carrots, mandarin, tofu, sesame seeds and a soy-based dressing.
--Put chunks of the fruit in Thai coconut curries
Lychee, longkong, rambutan, lemon, jackfruit, java apple, mangosteen, cantaloupe, nungu, coconut meat, passion fruit, pineapple (contrasting flavor), pomegranate (contrasting flavor), citrus, Asian pear, carambola, dragon fruit, guava, giant granadilla, wampee
Herbs, spices, and oil: Sugar, lemon juice, lime juice, vanilla, mint, basil, eucalyptus, champagne, vodka, white wine, salt, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame, green onion, shallot
Langsats contain a compound called lansium acid, a substance capable of arresting a frog’s heartbeat. Tribesmen sometimes collect this poisonous acid from the fruit peels and use it on the tips of their arrows.
Langsats are relatives of soapberries.
Note: Langsats are often confused with dukus and longkongs. While similar, langsats are the smallest, they possess the smoothest and thinnest skin. Moreover, langsats ooze latex when peeled, whereas longkongs do not. Their seeds are the smallest in relation to flesh, and they are not as sweet as the other two variants.