josef george kamel, s.j. drawing of santol
Santol [Sandoricum koetjape] Syn. hantol
Santol is associated with childhood memories. There are two popular varieties: the native and the Bangkok, known for its large fleshy fruit and introduced to the Philippines in the 1950s. Blooming during the cold months, the fruit matures as summer approaches. By late March or April, when classes are on summer break, santol satisfies the hunger for something sweet and slightly tart. Its yellow fruit encloses a clutch of five seeds covered with white stringy pulp that is sucked rather than eaten. The adventurous youngster swallows the seed as big as an adult’s thumb, headless of the warning that the ingested seed will germinate inside the stomach and in time force its way out of the nostrils, ears and other orifices of the body. This, of course, is urban or rather rural legend but there is always a sweet thrill daring to do the dangerous.
Santol can be eaten au naturelle, split the fruit and suck out the seeds and pulp. Add a bit of salt, if you please. Or it can be peeled so that more of the soft rind is kept, and the fruit is salted if you so please. A bit more complicated is storing the peeled santol in a jar and covering it with brine laced with sugar. Also easy to make is santol juice. Santol pealed and quartered is placed in a glass pitcher to which is added honey and water to cover. The mixture is then chilled for about three hours as the santol’s flavor leaches to the water. The santol flesh turns brownish because of oxidation the resulting juice has a light amber color like apple cider.