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Cane fruits are the size of limes or hazelnuts, from 1.5 to 2 centimeters in diameter. Cane fruit are a striking-looking fruit, with each fruit being covered in a soft, woody skin with overlapping scales in vertical rows. The skin is often brightly colored, ranging from white to yellow, or orange to red. Each fruit has between one and three seeds. Cane fruit has a cream-colored pulp much like a rambutan. The watery pulp has a complex flavor, being acidic and shockingly sour. Cane fruit grow in clusters on a family of palm trees known as “rattans”. It is a thorny plant, with vine-like stems that can grow to 200 meters and with leaves that can reach 90 centimeters in length.
Cane fruit are available year-round with a peak season in the mid-summer months.
Cane fruit grow on the rattan palm tree, an evergreen climbing plant botanically classified as Calamus. Of the near 600 species of rattan, around 14 varieties of Cane grow in the wild and are referred to as Calamus flagellum, Calamus floribunadus, and Calamus erectus. Cane fruit may be referred to as Rattan fruit. The wood of the rattan palm is primarily used for furniture production. Both the shoots and fruit of the rattan are edible. Cane fruit was traditionally used by the tribal people of Asia as a functional food, as it is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and fiber content.
Cane fruit contain protein, potassium and pectin, as well as nutrients like thiamine, iron, calcium and vitamin C. Cane fruit are also high in compounds such as flavonoids, phenolic acids and tannins, which may be useful in the prevention of allergies, inflammation, and even ulcers and tumors.
Cane fruit may be eaten raw or used as souring agents in a variety of dishes, and they are often paired with meat and fish. The fruit is used after its scaly exterior is peeled away to reveal its pulp. One can use a paring knife to split the skin. Then, using your fingers, separate the skin from the fruit as one would peel open a longan. The fruit is commonly added whole into dishes like sinigang, a Filipino sour stew, and dinuguan, or pork’s blood stew. Cane fruit are highly perishable, and should be eaten as soon as they are peeled. Refrigeration tends to harden the Cane fruit’s skin, making it difficult to peel the skin away from the pulp. Store Cane fruit whole at room temperature.
The word “rattan” comes from the word “rotang”, the Malay name for the plant on which Cane fruit grows. Cane fruit is popular in places like Thailand, where it can be found for sale at street vendors’ stalls. There, it can be bought freshly peeled and ready to eat as an on-the-go snack. In Thailand, Cane fruit is enjoyed dipped in a mixture of sugar and salt. Cane fruit is also used in Ayurvedic medicine as an astringent, and as a remedy for inflammation, gastrointestinal distress, chronic fevers and even convulsions. In traditional Chinese medicine, the resin from on variety of rattan, Daemonorops draco, is collected and turned into a powdery substance called “dragon’s blood”. It is used to stimulate circulation, and to help treat heart and blood disorders, as well as fractures, sprains and ulcers. In the Philippines, Cane fruit is used in traditional dishes and is also served as a snack during drinking sprees.
Cane fruit is indigenous to Asia. Cane fruit is grown mainly in the Meghalaya region of India, as well as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. It can also be found growing in the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar. Cane fruit grows on the rattan palm, a tropical plant that is often found in rainforests. It can grow in a wide variety of soils but prefers moist soils with rich organic matter, and needs strong sunlight in order to grow to maturity. Cane fruit is seen as a bit of a rarity as it is not a commonly cultivated plant, and rattan used for commercial purposes has been harvested from the wild, leading to a significant reduction in the occurrence of rattan in its natural habitat.