Snake Fruit – Delicious Taste, Terrifying Nightmare

By Mark Wiens 58 Comments
Snake Fruit in Thailand
Snake Fruit in Thailand

I just polished off a fresh cluster of snake fruit.

It was excellent.

Snake fruit, along with durian and a host of other fruit, is a natural growing gem of southeast Asia.

The outside of the fruit is scaly like a snake and prickly like a cactus, but the inside is sweeter than honey, sour like a pineapple and incredibly juicy. Its flesh is slightly acidic, giving your tongue a citrus like tingle.

The complex flavor wrapped into a lethal grenade looking package has a spectacular flavor.

What is snake fruit?
What is snake fruit?

What is Snake Fruit (Salak)?

Snake fruit, more technically known as salak or salacca zalacca, is native to Indonesia but is now grown and produced around southeast Asia. The fruit grows on the salak palm tree, sprouting off the base of the palm in little clusters.

In Thailand, snake fruit is widespread, popular as a to-go snack on the streets of Bangkok (during season). Venders will often handle the dirty work, peeling the spiky exterior and packing the peeled fruit into convenient baggies for sale. Thais enjoy snakefruit dipped in a mixture of sugar and salt.

Peeled snake fruit, this particular one was a double, butt shaped flesh
Peeled snake fruit, this particular one was a double, butt shaped flesh

My First Taste (The Story)

It was 2009 when I had my first taste of snake fruit.

I was hanging out in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, cruising around and excited to be exploring. A local friend of mine happened to have a few snake fruit trees on her compound in Yogyakarta and brought a sack of them for us all to enjoy.

After peeling away the pokey skin, I sunk my teeth into my very first snake fruit.

Just like wood apple, I developed an instantaneous addiction.

In the next 5 minutes I proceeded to down at least 25 pieces of snakefruit, finding it nearly impossible to stop when there was a free (and giant) sack right before me.

Snake Fruit
Juicy bite of Snake Fruit

“Don’t eat too many snakefruit, it will make you not use the toilet,” my Indonesian friend nonchalantly mentioned, being pre-occupied and oblivious to the solo devouring session I had just completed.

After my heart sank a few inches I managed a “Oh ooookkk,” terrified of the doom I could face as I gingerly set aside my 26th fruit.

That night I could barely sleep, stressing about my worst nightmare that seemed surly inevitable: constipation.

I woke up, ate some breakfast, drank a coffee, and apart from being a few hours later than the norm, I proceeded on with my chronic morning ritual.

Fortunately my food blogger digestive system overcame the alleged blocking powers of large quantities of snake fruit, constipation did NOT stand a chance!

If the legend is true of not, I still don’t know.

But one thing I do know, every time I eat snake fruit, even at a fruit buffet, I proceed with caution, knowing there could be consequences of eating too much of such a delicious thing.

Have you ever had snake fruit? Be careful…



58 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Romatua Lubis

    6 months ago

    Salak, is also widely used food ingredient. Such as dodol, chips, kolak (compote), cake and many more..

  • Dave

    6 months ago

    I have spent a few months living in Jakarta and one of the main things I miss is Salak. I couldn’t get enough of them, the texture of a nut combined with a sweetness of a ripe pear made me want more and more.
    Sadly, you can’t get them in the UK but I just know they would fly off the shelves if someone were to import them. 🙁

    • Simon

      6 months ago

      The local veg shop in West Hampstead in London sells them. Just bought one to try as I’ve never seen them before. I have to say I enjoyed it.

  • fooz

    7 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this with us.
    My sister in law brought me 3 seeds of snake fruit ” I like gardening”, planted them 4 weeks ago and amazing how they grow

    • deki

      3 months ago

      i hope one of them grow to male tree. or else you wont have a fruit no matter how long it planted

  • Hadas Parag

    11 months ago

    Thank you for the informative and delightful description of this fruit. I came by it in a small supermarket in Helgoland, an island off the coast of northern Germany (an unlikely destination for an American-Israeli who is not a birdwatcher, but being married to an American-German bird-watcher I have already visited there several times) . They cost 1.79 Euro a piece, and I had no idea what they are (except that as a botanist I thought it might be a palm tree fruit). For that price, without knowing how to eat it, and with my experience of inferior taste of fruits shipped to a place far from where they grow, I did not even try it. Maybe next time I will come by it I will give it a try. At least I will be able to judge its quality by comparing to your description. The sole advantage of the situation is that at this price I need not worry about constipation…

  • dwi

    1 year ago

    I’m sorry Mark. I smiled when I read the title, but I laughed very hard in the middle of the night as I read the contain of this post. I love to eat salak (salak bali is my favorite) and like you, I couldn’t stop myself to eat this fruits (thanks God I have siblings to fight to have this fruits as many as I can) and my Mom always warned us and told us not to cry later when we have constipation later ( which is always happen to us as an aftereffect ). So read this post really bring back my memories to me, as I never eat salak in the past 4 years ( I study abroad and never in ‘salak season’ when I went to Indonesia for holiday )

    Thank you Mark for posting this! 🙂

  • Rikza

    1 year ago

    Salak is my favorite fruit

  • Cecilia

    1 year ago

    I arrived last Sunday from Bali after a whole week there.
    I get fan of this fruit…my colleges help me to pell off cause I can deal with snakes even in a book….
    One of our local guides toll me not to eat to much fruit cause can hurt my throat…right now I am at the doctor office because my throat sore very much….
    Maybe is a coincidence….maybe not….anyway I love snake fruit!!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      1 year ago

      Hey Cecila, great to hear from you and that you tried snake fruit. Glad you like it too!

      • Raja

        1 year ago

        Dear Mark wiena

        That fruit is very intresting but i want further details in snake fruit
        Pls help import in our country from india [Tamil Nadu]

  • Emma

    1 year ago

    I live in Bali and a restaurant near us do a salak drink. Chop salak and add to soda water with cloves, cinnamon, lemongrass and star anise. Soooo good

  • Jungle Joe

    1 year ago

    Great story and quite accurate. I am eating some right now and they are delicious and dangerous.

  • Yustisia

    2 years ago

    woww…intersting and funny story! you must try other fruit from Indonesia such as duku or rambutan.
    just for info, salak has inner skin which make us not getting constipation.
    i hear it is a laxative and full of fiber… 😀

  • Ngoc Tran

    2 years ago

    I just had some zalacca ice. I had no idea what it was so I decided to google it. Surpriseeeeeeed. It first came up with your website. I’ve been watching you on youtube for a year.

  • Dave Shichman

    2 years ago

    Fell in love with this fruit on my recent visit to Chiang Mai last month, amazing fruit!!!

  • Kamal G

    2 years ago

    Am wholesale fruits in India. I want snake fruits for sales in India. Do u interest for sales send to details for my mail.

    • Fauzan F

      5 months ago

      Hi Kamal, if you want to know more about (or buy) snake fruits from Indonesia, you can contact me via email [email protected] . feel free to ask, thank you.
      By the way mark, if you visit yogyakarta, you should go to Turi or Tempel it is a disctrics where you can find salak everywhere. 😀

  • Amelia Cahyadi

    2 years ago

    Old people said, when you eat salak or snake skin fruit, don’t peel the thin skin under the thick snake skin, it will makes you constipated. Some people just like to peel it away, like me hahaha. And if you can choose the right salak, it doesnt taste sour at all, just sweet and addictive!

  • Jimmy

    2 years ago

    I have a stomach allergies, it was very bad that i had 3 months of diarrhea. I ate salak so i don’t have to sit in the toilet for hours.

  • Diana

    3 years ago

    Mark, if you go to Yogyakarta once again, you can taste a sweet (not even bitter or sour taste) Salak. The variant is Salak Pondoh and mostly grow in Sleman, Yogyakarta. Thai Salak may be different variant (or species), so you’d better try 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Thank you very much Diana, I really hope to visit Yogyakarta again in the future, and I’ll keep an eye out for salak pondoh.

  • kay

    3 years ago

    constipation is a myth 🙂 wanna hear more interesting myth about it?

    if you eat the salak WITHOUT the “membrane” ( idk how to say it, the transparent membrane between the “scale” and the fruit) by peeling it, you will get constipation, but if you eat the fruit with the “membrane” you’ll be fine

  • Tatters

    3 years ago

    The photos in the article are actually photos of Salacca wallichian NOT Salacca zalacca. Consider to correct.

  • syd

    3 years ago

    We have this in Ecuador. I forgot what they call it here, but I really like it too. I have only been able to find it at small farmer’s markets during season.

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Syd, cool thanks for sharing, glad you can find it in Ecuador as well.

  • Tyara

    4 years ago

    feel ashamed, as an Indonesian I never know salak is “snake fruit” in English.. I just say salak if someone ask me the name.. salak pondoh might be the most famous and delicious “varieties” of snake fruit in Indonesia. Well, it is really true if you’re eat salak too much, you’ll get constipation.. be careful.. hohoho

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Tyara, haha, I learned that rule in Indonesia, it was the first place I ever tried salak!

  • Marilou

    4 years ago

    i stumbled upon your blog while I was searching for ‘salak’ on the net after i saw one at T&T (a very popular Asian store in Canada) only this morning. I read in wikipedia it’s also called “rattan fruit” but the “rattan fruit” i remember eating in the Philippines was so acidic, colored brown and smaller round fruit, compared to the red and spiky “salak”. Maybe it’s the different species that I ate, but belonging to similar family. thanks to your blog, for the very good description of eating salak, I will surely buy a bag on my next visit to T&T. cheers 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Marilou, cool, thanks a lot for sharing and hope you enjoy the bag of salak!

  • Donny

    4 years ago

    We were introduced to snake fruit on Lombok in Indonesia. It became a go to portable snack in SE Asia along with longans and rambutans. All these lovely fruits with a great portable packaging!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Donny, glad you like snake fruit too. Yes, such great snacks to carry around and eat all the time!

  • Sharon

    4 years ago

    I believe I had the same experience when I tried the snake fruit! So sad, they are not in Kenya… :(, hope you did try rambutan… 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Sharon, glad you like snake fruit too. Yes, love rambutan as well!

  • Ari

    5 years ago

    Hey, was just googling snakefruit and came across this site. I discovered these in Thailand last year and can’t get enough of them. Probably tied with mangosteen for my favorite. I like the way you described the flavor – when asked, I’ve said ‘something like a really sweet, intense, acidic strawberry’. I’m on a business trip to Burma now and found some (much more expensive) in the Chinatown market in Yangon. I think they’re imported from Thailand, because they’re not as fresh. Doesn’t matter, I’m still chowing down on ’em. Wish we could get them in the states, wonder why no one is importing them…

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Ari, glad you also love snake fruit and found some in Burma. I know, it would be great if them sold it in the US, but I’ve never seen it there. Have you visit Indonesia or Malaysia? It’s more plentiful in parts of Indonesia and Malaysia than Thailand!

  • Martha

    5 years ago

    Hi! I live in Jakarta, Indonesia since I was born. I also love snake fruit 😀 It’s very delicious! I’m so glad that people from other country like this fruit. Thank you for visiting our country 😀

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Martha, great to hear you love it too. You’re welcome, I’d love to visit again in the future!

  • Wrabbit007

    5 years ago

    It looks delicious! I want to try it, but I bet the odds of finding it in Canada are slim to none. Guess I’d better get myself over to Indonesia! On a related note, I don’t have Indonesia on my Bucket List – if I added it, what are some “must-see” or “must-do” experiences you recommend?

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks for the comment. I haven’t actually traveled to very many places in Indonesia, I visited the island of Sumatra (Medan), Java (Jakarta, Yogyakarta), and finally Bali. I would love to still visit many more islands and places in the vast country. I can recommend Yogyakarta and Mt. Bromo on Java. I’ve heard really good things about Gili Islands, Sulawesi (for diving especially), Lombok, and Borneo. Hope this helps!

    • Ryan

      4 years ago

      If you are anywhere near T & T supermarket in Metropolis in Burnaby they have them there.

  • Glen

    5 years ago

    definitely i will look that fruit when i visit bangkok….

  • Emy

    5 years ago

    Marcos! this looks absolutely delicious !!!! You should bring some back! 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thanks Emy, I would love to! I know you’d like this fruit!

  • Erica

    5 years ago

    Wow! So concise but informative and entertaining!
    I have so much to learn from you.

    May I also say that I particularly enjoyed that the shape of the fruit that you just so happened to take and posted was completely relevant to the proceeding story. 😉

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Haha, thanks Erica, yes very similar shape and color! I appreciate you reading and commenting on this story!