Pulasan

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Poop Friendly:Whether a food has qualities that help baby poop. Yes
Common Allergen: No
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When can babies eat pulasan?

Pulasan may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Both the flesh of the pulasan and the seed inside pose a choking risk, so see our suggestions for how to serve pulasan by baby’s age before introducing.

Where does pulasan come from?

Pulasan is a close relative of the rambutan, both juicy fruits of evergreen trees that originated in Southeast Asia. The plant thrives wherever the weather is warm and wet, like the tropics of the Americas, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Asia, where pulasan is also known as bulala and ngoh khao san, among other names. In Malay, its name means “twist,” which hints at how one eats the fruit. The edible part of a pulasan is protected by a thick, leathery casing that one can crack open by twisting the shell in opposite directions. Like rambutan, the shell of a pulasan has soft, fleshy spikes, though they are thicker and shorter.

Is pulasan healthy for babies?

Yes. Pulasan is packed with plenty of calcium to support bone health and potassium as an important electrolyte for heart health. It also offers a good amount of vitamin C, which aids the absorption of plant-based sources of iron.1 The benefits don’t stop there: the fruit also offers antioxidants to repair cells, carbohydrates for fast energy, and fiber to nourish baby’s developing gut microbiome.2 3

Pulasan flesh is often made into preserves, jam, jelly, or sauces, which may contain sugar or other ingredients that are not appropriate for babies. If serving canned pulasan, you can rinse or soak the fruit in water to remove some of the sugary syrup from the flesh, then cut according to baby’s age and eating ability.

Is pulasan a common choking hazard for babies?

Yes. You won’t find pulasan on most lists of the top choking hazards for babies, but the fruit’s chewy, firm, and slippery consistency poses a risk. The pulasan’s inner seed is edible, but it is hard and rounded, making it a high choking risk. To reduce these risks, remove the shell and seed before offering pulasan to babies and toddlers and finely chop or mince the pulasan flesh. As always, make sure you create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during meals. For more information on choking, visit our sections on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Is pulasan a common allergen?

No. Allergies to pulasan are rare, but possible.4 People who are allergic to pollens may be sensitive to pulasan, rambutan, and lychee fruits, as can individuals with Oral Allergy Syndrome (also known as pollen-food allergy).5 6 7 8 9 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction.

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small quantity for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the quantity over future meals.

How do you introduce pulasan to babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 9 months old: Finely chop fresh pulasan, seed and shell removed, and serve atop a soft, scoopable food like congee, mashed plantains, or yogurt. At this age, refrain from offering processed pulasan products like jam, jelly, paste, or syrup.

9 to 18 months old: Discard the seed and shell and cut the pulp into quarters to create bite-sized pieces (about the size of a large adult knuckle). Serve the pieces of pulasan on their own for the child to practice picking up or mix them into grains or fruit salads. Of course, you may continue to finely chop the pulp as well.

24 months old and up: When you feel your child is ready and understands instructions, try working with whole pulasan that has been shelled, and coach how to take bites from the fruit and spit out the seed. Be sure to stay within an arm’s reach if they need more help managing the fruit’s consistency.

Read more about Sugar and Taste Preferences to help your child build a healthy relationship with sweet foods.

What are recipe ideas for cooking with pulasan?

There are different varieties of pulasan, each with its own distinctive flavor, but most have a floral aroma and sweet taste that is similar to lychee, a tropical fruit in the same family. Once removed from its spiny shell, the translucent egg-shaped fruit can be eaten fresh out of hand, pickled, preserved, or cooked in sweet desserts or savory curries, salads, salsas, and more. Try finely chopped or minced pulasan mixed into savory or sweet warm cereals, coconut rice, or chia puddings.

Recipe: Pulasan and Banana Chia Seed Pudding

Yield: 2 cups (400 grams)
Cook Time: 5 minutes + overnight soak
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 2 pulasans (or rambutans)
  • ½ ripe banana
  • ¾ cup (180 milliliters) full-fat coconut milk (ideally BPA-free if canned)
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) chia seed
  • 1 pinch cardamom (optional)
  • 1 pinch ground peanut (optional)

This recipe contains common allergens: peanut and coconut. Only serve to a child after these allergens have been safely introduced. While coconut allergy is rare, it’s classified as a tree nut by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Directions

Make this chia seed pudding the night before you plan to serve it so it’s ready in a flash in the morning.

  1. Run a knife around the pulasan shell, then twist the halves in opposite directions to peel the shell from the flesh. Cut the flesh from the seed, then finely chop the flesh. Discard the shells and seeds.
  2. Peel and mash the banana, then scoop into a small glass jar with a sealed lid. A 2-cup mason jar works perfectly!
  3. Add the chopped pulasan, coconut milk, chia seeds, and seasoning. Seal the jar, then shake vigorously to combine.
  4. Place the jar in the fridge to chill until the chia seeds have expanded and the mixture has thickened, ideally overnight. If you’re pressed for time, chill for at least 1 hour, shaking every 10 minutes or so to fully blend the mixture and help speed up the process.
  5. When you’re ready to serve, scoop some chia seed pudding into the child’s bowl. Exact serving size is variable. Let the child decide how much to eat. Sprinkle ground peanut on top (optional).
  6. Let the child try to self-feed. If you’d like to encourage utensil use, pre-load the utensil and rest it on the edge of the bowl or next to the food for the child to pick up. Alternatively, pass a pre-loaded utensil in the air for the child to grab.

To Store: Pulasan and Banana Chia Seed Pudding keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1 week.

Flavor Pairings

Pulasan pairs beautifully with the flavors of cassava (yuca), coconut, guava (firm), peanut, rice, and yam.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MS, CNS. Certified Nutrition Specialist®

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP. Board-Certified Pediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist

K. Tatiana Maldonado, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS, CLEC. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT. Pediatric Feeding Therapist

Dr. S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

Dr. R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Malaysian Food Composition Database. Pulasan. Retrieved April 25, 2022
  2. Malaysian Food Composition Database. Pulasan. Retrieved April 25, 2022
  3. Hairunisa et al. (2021). IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 736 012018. Retrieved April 25, 2022
  4. Raap U, Schaefer T, Kapp A, Wedi B. Exotic food allergy: anaphylactic reaction to lychee. Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Hannover Medical University. (2007) Retrieved April 25, 2022
  5. Kelso, J. M., Jones, R. T., Yunginger, J. W. (1998). Anaphylaxis after initial ingestion of rambutan, a tropical fruit. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 102, 1, 145-146. DOI: 10.1016/S0091-6749(98)70066-1. Retrieved April 25, 2022
  6. Jirapongsananuruk, O., Jirarattanasopa, N., Pongpruksa, S., Vichyanond, P., & Piboonpocanun, S. (2011). Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase as a major allergen in rambutan-induced anaphylaxis. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology : official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, 106(6), 545–547. DOI: 10.1016/j.anai.2011.03.008. Retrieved April 25, 2022
  7. Rank, M. A., & Li, J. T. (2007). A case of food allergy due to longan fruit. Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology : official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, 98(4), 402. DOI: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)60890-3. Retrieved April 25, 2022
  8. Raap U, Schaefer T, Kapp A, Wedi B. Exotic food allergy: anaphylactic reaction to lychee. Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Hannover Medical University. (2007) Retrieved April 25, 2022
  9. Valsecchi R,  Leghissa P. Contact allergy due to Lychee. Departments of Dermatology and Occupational Medicine, Bergamo General Hospital. (2012) Retrieved April 25, 2022