I think I have finally found some real kalumpit (terminalia microcarpa). Last October I had found some unusual (for me) fruits at the market and tried to identify them properly. I put a post on them asking if they were either kalumpit or manzanitas, the two closest choices, I thought. But the post received a surprisingly large number of comments and my apprehensions about the fruits in the photographs then were well-foundedâ€¦ I had no idea what the fruit was! It seems the fruits then are more commonly referred to as â€œcherriesâ€ and frankly, despite a readerâ€™s help (Tulip), I never really got to the bottom of thingsâ€¦ At least I knew I probably did not have kalumpit, an apparently indigenous tree/fruit that is increasingly more and more difficult to find. So last Saturday at the Nasugbu market, when I noticed a vendor selling some unusual looking semi-dried berries or fruit in a small basket, my Marketman instincts kicked in and I nosed my way to the vendor. I asked her what she had and she said â€œkalumpit, ako ang nagpitas sa bundokâ€¦â€ (kalumpit, I picked them myself up in the mountains). I asked if I could buy some but she said they were already all sold to one of the fish vendors. Bummer.
Not one to give up so easily on a fruit I had misidentified once before, I circled around the market and returned to the fish vendor who bought all of the kalumpit. I bought 2 kilos of her tanguigue steaks and as I was paying, I smiled and nicely asked if I could have a handful of her kalumpit so I could take a photo of them. Thankfully, she obliged, and even gave me instructions on how to prepare them at home. I then ventured to the fruit section of the market and suddenly realized the place had several vendors with small to medium sized baskets filled with kalumpit! Clearly, this was not a rare commodity in the Nasugbu market, it was just extremely seasonal and apparently highly labor intensive to collect. Nevertheless, I purchased two cans (large tomato soup size) worth of kalumpit for PHP15 and now I had about half a kilo of this heretofore elusive fruitâ€¦
Back at home, I unloaded the kalumpit, which seemed beyond ripe, almost slightly fermenting really, and placed them in a bowl. The vendor at the market said I needed to soak them in some water to remove the dirt and any worms that might be in the pile. Little did I know she meant WORMSâ€¦ IN BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS!!! From the first soak in water for a minute or two, at least 20 wriggling teeny tiny to highly visible creamy worms floated up to the surface. Yikes! They were wickedly gross looking. So we soaked them again and watched even more worms rise to the surface of the water. After TEN more soaks the worms got less but there were still live ones floating around! Super yuck is right. I was so grossed out I soaked them for an hour longer then drained them. I actually considered microwaving them to zap any remaining critters but that would mean I would likely EAT their remains instead! Continuing with the instructions, I poured lots of white granulated sugar onto the fruit and mixed it up a bit. I tasted one of the fruit and it had a plum like flavor, slightly fermenting and sweetened with sugar.
Frankly, if I had never seen the worms, I might get to like this concoction. I am, after all, a major consumer of kiamoy. But I just had a hard time removing the worm visual from my brain. I let the kalumpit steep in the sugar overnight and had them again in the morningâ€¦ letâ€™s just say 6 or so fruit is the maximum amount I could stomach. Itâ€™s funny that if these had been presented to me in a mall in a clean plastic bag, I would probably have munched my way through the entire bagâ€¦ but because I had seen the fruit fresh from the tree (or the soil just beneath it), teeming with live creepy crawlies giving me the hibbie-jibbies, I just couldnâ€™t get into the kalumpit in sugar at all. I didnâ€™t even bother to try the salt routeâ€¦ At any rate, here are the photos of the kalumpit. But sorry, this is the last time you will see a post on them unless someone has a brilliant suggestion how to get these worm freeâ€¦ Oh, and one last thing, the main difference between this fruit and the one I photographed last year? This was smaller and had a single seed or pit in the middle, not the multiple seeds in the local â€œcherriesâ€â€¦