The Burmese grape is not your average grape; its thick orange-like skin with segmented insides delivers sweet and tart tropical flavors. With its delicately tropical flavors and unique texture, it’s no surprise that this fantastic fruit is fit for the god of the Universe.
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What is a Burmese Grape?
Burmese grapes (Baccaurea ramiflora) grow in grape-like clusters in evergreen forests on fruit trees native to Southeast Asia in countries like India, Laos, Burma, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. These exotic fruits have firm yellow skin with segmented insides resembling garlic.
While the appearance of a Burmese grape looks nothing like a traditional grape, its flavor is surprisingly similar. Burmese grapes have a subtle sweetness with a flavor similar to lychee.
The History of Burmese Grapes
Burmese grapes are native to Southeast Asia. It grows wild locally, and residents use the fruit as a treat and utilize the bark of the tree for medicinal uses.
In India, the Burmese grape fruit is a central part of the celebration of the Rath Yatra. During the holy festival, Hindus offer Burmese grapes to Lord Jagannath, the god of the Universe.
While these unique fruits are wildly available locally, there are no big commercial exporters of this exotic fruit. A few cultivars in India and Peninsular Malaysia ship worldwide, but it’s rare to see fresh Burmese grapes outside of Southeast Asia.
What Does a Burmese Grape Taste Like?
The flavors of Burmese grapes are light and tropical, with evenly balanced sweet and tart flavors. Burmese grapes can taste incredibly sweet or sour depending on their size and ripeness. The fibrous texture is similar to lychee, with a muted tropical flavor like mangosteen.
It’s like a hybrid of strawberries, lychee, papaya, and the bright tartness of pineapple. When cooked, much of the sourness fades into a bright sweetness, perfect for wine, jams, and savory dishes.
How to Tell When Burmese Grapes Are Ripe
Check out these tips below to ensure that you pick out a Burmese grape at the peak of ripeness.
|When unripe, Burmese grapes are a bright shade of green. Most varieties turn a place shade of yellow when ripe, while other types turn orange, red, or even purple.
|A ripe Burmese grape is firm but has a slight give to it. If it feels soft like an orange, it’s at the peak of ripeness.
|Since it has such thick skin, the smell test isn’t the optimal way to tell if a Burmese grape is ripe.
|A few bruises and brown spots are ok, but if you notice a love of bruising, cracking, or wrinkled skin, the Burmese grape is past its prime.
Are Burmese Grapes and Red Grapes Related?
While they have similarities, Burmese and red grapes belong to two different families of fruit. Red grapes are a member of the Vitaceae family of flowering plants, while Burmese grapes are a member of the Phyllanthaceae family.
Red grapes grow in clusters on a central vine, while Burmese grapes grow on slow-growing evergreen trees. While they have a similar sweet and tart flavor, the texture of a Burmese grape is nothing like a red grape. It has a much thicker skin and segmented insides that are more closely related to lychee than a red grape.
Cooking with Burmese Grapes
Before diving into some tasty recipes, let’s look at how to prepare fresh Burmese grapes. Don’t worry; it’s very straightforward!
1. Wash your fruit. Even though the skin is eventually discarded, washing your fruit is always essential. Place in a colander, and run with cool water to remove any dirt and debris.
2. Remove the segmented pulp. Using your fingers, peel away the skin in the same way you peel an orange. Inside, you’ll find segments that look similar to garlic. Pluck them out of the skin.
3. Remove the seeds. In most recipes, you’ll need to remove the seeds. Cut the segments in half, and carefully cut out the small seeds with your knife.
Here are a few exceptional Burmese grapes recipes:
Stewed Burmese Grapes: Stewed Burmese grapes are an excellent healthy sweet treat. They’re tender, sweet and earn warming flavor additions like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Burmese Grape Salad Dressing: You can also juice Burmese grapes to make a tangy salad dressing. Pair the juice of Burmese grapes with flavorful acidic additions like balsamic vinegar, orange juice, and garlic. So simple!
Latkan Wine: Latkan wine is insanely popular in Malaysia and India. It incorporates fermented Burmese grapes, creating a delicate, sweet, and sour wine.
How to Store Burmese Grapes
Burmese grapes will stay fresh for up to five days at their peak of freshness. However, to keep your Burmese grapes fresher longer, skip the freeze and opt for a more unconventional method.
One of the best ways to keep your Burmese grapes fresh is to boil peeled grapes in heavily salted water for a few minutes. Place boiled grapes in an air-tight container, and store them in the refrigerator.
Nutritional Benefits of Burmese Grapes
One serving of Burmese grapes has about 48 calories in a cup. While it’s low in calories, it delivers many health benefits from its high amounts of vitamins and minerals.
One serving has around 10 grams of carbohydrates and high amounts of beneficial Vitamin C, iron, and protein. Diets rich in Vitamin C help boost the immune system, can help you lose weight, and can help naturally lower insulin levels.
Where to Purchase Burmese Grapes
It’s unlikely that you’ll stumble across this exotic fruit at your local supermarket. One of your best options is to head to a local Asian market when these fruits are in season between mid-April through September.
Unfortunately, there are not a lot of Burmese grape cultivars in Southeast Asia, but there are a few ways to get your hands on this fruit without booking a plane ticket. Specialty fruit companies will ship these fruits to your door at a very high price tag.