SalakSalak fruit is produced in clusters. The shape of the fruit varies greatly, much like pineapples. It can be oval, egg-shaped, or round. The color is green with a scaly appearance. When it ripens, the fruits turn brown and split open to reveal red flesh embedded with small black seeds. Its flesh is tangy and its taste is a mix of pineapple, strawberry, and banana.
Most of the seed is contained in a hard central core which should be discarded. Salak fruit tastes like a mix of pineapple, strawberry, and banana. It has a tangy taste. For this reason, many people like to eat it with sour seasoning such as acar (pickled vegetables).
Salak is an evergreen tree growing up to tall. It bears fruits and flowers on the same plant. The fruit is a drupe, not a true nut (such as cashew or almond), but there are hard shell-like seeds inside. The fruit takes three years to bear. The gestation time of the fruit is between 15 and 18 months. In the first nine months, it grows from a bud into a flower. During this period, many insects visit the flower for nectar and some of them, such as bees pollinate it. In the next nine months, the fruit develops from flower to ripe fruit.
Salak fruit is used as traditional medicine for ailments such as ulcers and tuberculosis. The plant can propagate from seeds or by suckering. In the Philippines, it is more common to grow this palm from seedlings rather than from suckers because salak palms grown from sucker shoots lack the potency of fruit flavors. Suckers, however, produce fruit sooner and in greater abundance than seedlings. With the growth of new industries and markets for salak-based products, farmers may gain more by planting the suckers.
The plant is collected from wild populations because it is difficult to establish plantations of salak palms. The fruits are harvested when they are half ripe and still firm. At this stage, the fruit can be kept for two to three weeks without spoiling. The fruit is allowed to ripen before it is eaten or processed further. If they are not harvested when half-ripe, they will drop from the palm on their own.
Salak fruits are harvested from the ground once they mature. The red flesh tastes sweet at first but this is followed by an intensely bitter aftertaste. The fruit can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of dishes. In Indonesia, the seeds are scooped out, shelled, and eaten.