March is harvest time for the Thai rose apple, also known as Chomphu (ชมพู่) or Chompoo in the Thai language. The rose apple is a bell-shaped fruit native not only to Thailand, but other Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Today, it is also grown in Hawaii, Florida, the Caribbean, and other areas with a warm climate.
So, what does a Thai rose apple taste like? A Chomphu has a unique sweet and slightly tart flavor, with a crisp and crunchy texture similar to an apple. The fruit is juicy and refreshing, with a delicate floral aroma that is reminiscent of a rose, giving it its name.
The taste of a Thai rose apple can vary depending on its ripeness. When the fruit is fully ripe, it will have a sweeter flavor, while unripe fruits may have a more sour taste. Some people also describe the taste of Thai rose apples as similar to that of a pear or a watermelon, with a subtle hint of rose flavor.
Overall, the taste of a Thai rose apple is best experienced fresh, eaten raw as a snack or added to salads or other dishes for a sweet and refreshing twist. For example, rose apples are used in the popular dish Yam Mamuang Chomphu, which is a spicy green mango and rose apple salad. The fruit can also be added to Som Tam (papaya salad) or to other fruit salads for added sweetness and texture.
Thai rose apples can also be used in a variety of savory dishes, such as curries or stir-fries. One popular Thai dessert that uses rose apple is Khanom Bueang Chompoo, which is a crispy pancake filled with sweet cream and topped with slices of the fruit. Rose apples also make a great, accompanying snack to Thai tea.
Thai rose apples are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. They are also low in calories and fat, making them a great snack option for people who are watching their weight. Antioxidants, such as polyphenols and flavonoids found in Thai rose apples, have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. And the leaves of the Thai rose apple are also used in traditional Thai medicine to treat various ailments, including fever, diarrhea, and respiratory problems.
If you would like to taste Thai rose apples (Chomphu) for yourself, they are very cheap at Sakon Nakhon markets in Thailand, with a 1/2 kilo of rose apples often being sold for only 10 baht.
Learn Thai Language Note: The Thai word for rose apple (chomphu) is similar but different than the Thai word for pink: see-chomphu, which translates literally to “color pink”. The word chomphu (ชมพู่) when referring to the fruit has a falling tone at the end, but the word see-chomphu (สีชมพู) has a level tone at the end.