Samui Wining & Dining
Samui has its fair share of delicious fruit farmed right here on the island.

Samui has its fair share of delicious fruit farmed right here on the island.Think of a tropical holiday and a picture emerges of white sandy beaches, balmy oceans, palm trees swaying in the breeze and bright tropical fruit in abundance. Now while some fruits that require a winter season, such as apples and peaches, don’t do well in a tropical climate, there are many more interesting varieties to choose from.


Part of travelling to a new place means trying new experiences and new foods. So while you’re here, be sure to try the sometimes strange-looking fruits at the market. It’s so cheap, you may as well give it a go – you never know, it could just be your new addiction!


The most obvious fruit farmed on Samui has to be the versatile coconut. Even though the palm tree has become synonymous as a symbol of Samui, it was only fairly recently that the coconut became the largest export from the island. Although there were always coconuts, over the years, Samui farmers gradually turned the island into a substantial coconut plantation. Every month, Samui supplies Bangkok with over two million coconuts. These are harvested from the approximately three million trees that grow on the island, each of which produces around 70 coconuts per year. That’s a lot of nuts! The legacy of the islands early coconut farmers is still apparent today as Samui proudly boasts more varieties of coconuts than anywhere else in the world. There’s nothing more refreshing, or no better hangover cure than an ice-cold ‘maprao’, lid cut open, and soft white flesh to scoop out after drinking the coconut water. Coconut milk, made from crushing the flesh and juice, is used at the base for all Thai curries, as well as some soups, blending well with spices and the heat of chillies. And coconut is used for substance and flavour in most Thai sweets and desserts.


The very first communities to settle here on Samui lived nearly always by the coast, but then later they started to plant crops inland, which flourished in the tropical warm climate. The farming of tropical fruit became a prime export industry for the local community, and even today Samui is renowned throughout Thailand for succulent tropical fruits such as ‘langsat’Samui has its fair share of delicious fruit farmed right here on the island., a small fruit, with a sweet, white translucent centre, and also that much talked about fruit, the durian.


Durian, known as the ‘king of all fruits’, is grown in abundance here on Samui. The island has gained a reputation for growing some of the best durian in the country – but, it’s a controversial fruit, and most people feel quite strongly about it, either loving it and defending it fiercely, or hating it and gagging at the thought.Why would someone hate a fruit, you ask? Well, it has a rather unusual odour, difficult to describe, but one that is so peculiar that it’s banned from most hotels and airlines. But, those that love it become addicted to its rich, creamy flesh. The fruit is extremely rich and nutritious, although it shouldn’t be consumed with alcohol as this can cause the body to overheat. It can also raise blood pressure, so shouldn’t be consumed if you have a heart condition.


We chatted to local durian farmer, Khun Durong Ratanarak, about his experience farming this giant fruit on Samui. He was born on Samui, and his farm is in the mountains of Maenam on 12 acres of land, where he not only grows the king of fruit, but also rubber trees, which the entire province of Surat Thani is well known for.


Khun Durong explains that the methods of farming durian have remained similar over the years, and luckily due to his elevated mountain position, his farm is not affected by the floods that sometimes occur during the monsoon season. However, rain can affect the flowering time of the durian trees if it rains out of season, and he also needs to closely watch the trees for signs of aphid and other insect infestations. Durian is a seasonal fruit and on Samui it’s harvested in March – so keep your eyes open for it in the shops and markets at the moment … or just follow your nose! Although he supplies some durian to the markets of Samui, most is bought by middlemen from Chumphon, on the mainland.


Durian and coconuts are not the only fruit grown on Samui, and most locals, even if they’re not farmers, will have at least a banana tree growing in their garden. And here, you’ll find endless varieties of banana, P58-4so try them all, as their flavours and textures are quite different.


Rather than playing it safe by having a slice of tangy pineapple or juicy watermelon (as lovely as these are), try something that you perhaps can’t get back home. Why not try some fragrant papaya or perhaps a sweet rambutan, with its soft white flesh hidden behind a crazy hairstyle of red and green tendrils. And on Samui you’ll also find mangosteen growing, with its hard purple shell revealing a soft white centre of delicious segments. Driving around you’ll notice trees with crispy rose apples, sapodilla, tamarind, guavas, pomelo and an abundance of mango trees too. And the list goes on and on depending on the season. In short, Samui is blessed with an amazing selection of delicious fruit for locals and visitors to enjoy, so make the most of it, and try the fruit fresh from the trees or market, in a refreshing smoothie, or perhaps a spicy papaya salad or a dessert of mango and sticky rice.


 Rosanne Turner


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