27 Aug2009

Santol is in Season!

by Marketman


At a roadside vendor in Wawa, Batangas last weekend, we found these wonderful looking “Bangkok” santol that were a medium large size and turned out to be incredibly sweet (the seeds, that is). We bargained a bit and ended up with some 10 kilos for PHP70, or PHP7 per kilo. The next day, I saw similar sized santols, and even granting that they may have been a touch sweeter, at the basement of Rockwell Mall, I cringed at the PHP120 per kilo price, “imforted prom Bangkok.” So that is the possible range of cost for medium to large santol at the moment, assuming you don’t have a tree in the backyard that is laden with fruit. I realize santol only ranked 13th among readers favorite local fruits, see poll results here, and I have to agree it isn’t in my personal top 5 tropical fruit list, but I have many fond childhood memories of santol. Then of course there was that strange fruit tree blight that hit decades ago, that affected all santols in the country and they now have strange deformities on their leaves…


So what am I doing with the seasoanl abundance of santol? I ate one with some salt, seeds and flesh included (but peeled, of course). I made a pitcher of santol juice. And I am currently soaking santol flesh to make into santol preserves in a day or two. If you are wondering what else to do with the seasonal bounty, please check out these previous posts in the marketmanila.com archives:

Santol Juice
Santol Preserves
Santol Turnovers
Sinigang na Santol at Bangus
Santol Sugpo sa Gata



  1. pegi says:

    I really missed eating those santols either with rock salt or the flesh dip in bagoong. hay…

    Aug 27, 2009 | 5:07 am


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  3. netoy says:

    you made me laugh again: “imforted prom Bangkok”.. LMAO.. bad dahil nasa office ako…. )-;

    Aug 27, 2009 | 5:26 am

  4. teresa says:

    Ohhh how I envy you!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 5:55 am

  5. ria_K says:

    i miss santol so much!!!! i remember grating lots of lots of santol when i was growing up. my parents would then add lots of salt to the grated santol in order to preserve it. then we would use it as souring agent for sinigang, or sometimes for paksiw na isda instead of vinegar. my favorite though was the santol/salt mixture cooked in coconut milk with siling labuyo then topped with flaked tinapa bits! sarap!!!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 5:59 am

  6. Ejit says:

    It maybe weird for some but I eat santol not with salt but with sugar.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 6:25 am

  7. betty q. says:

    Nice fruit bowl, MM! is that the Olive one you brought back from Athens?…from Mr. Petros?

    Aug 27, 2009 | 6:54 am

  8. Maria says:

    This is one of those posts which trigger childhood memories. I remember on a trip to Bicol when I was a kid eating my way around my grandfather’s neighborhood. One particular afternoon, we were taken for a carabao ride and the rewards after were merienda at every house we stopped at. We were served a dish of grated santol and I saw somebody grating santol riding the coconut kudkuran. It was similar to ria_K’s dish with coconut milk and bagoong with lots of siling labuyo. They gave us some in a big jar to take home with us to Manila and for a long time, that was the most precious commodity in the house. My mom doled it out like caviar on top of newly cooked rice! Ang sarap. I can’t find any store which sells it in Makati.

    Funny that phrase “imforted prom Bangkok.” Made my morning. Thanks MM

    Aug 27, 2009 | 7:14 am

  9. RoBStaR says:

    arghhh my mouth is salivating…

    santol peeled and eaten with a pinch of rock salt and soy sauce..

    When I went home last april 2008, I had a contest to see who could find me santol to reap the bounty of P2500..but nothing.. I specifically planned my trip around april because someone told me there would be plenty of santol to be had…But i now know its june… same with duhat.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 7:20 am

  10. sanojmd says:

    i thought the “imforted prom Bangkok” was a typo error but then i realized later on with the ” ” a mistake but not from you.. hahaha

    Aug 27, 2009 | 7:27 am

  11. des says:

    Bangkok santol variety is common in Batangas, we had a big three planted in front of my Lola’s house. They are really big and sweet.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 8:05 am

  12. dhayL says:

    you’re not helping MM, for someone who’s about 36 weeks pregnant like and has no access to santol, all i can do is stare at my pc :(

    Aug 27, 2009 | 8:08 am

  13. Connie C says:

    Between” imforted” and “three” planting…..many trigger happy fingers triggering haffy memories! thought only bettyQ can’t control her fingers. ha, ha, ha.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 8:13 am

  14. natie says:

    hahaha!! that’s funny, MM..

    love santol and the memories that go with a certain tree by the road at Lolo’s house ..we’d spend summers in his farm. my cousin and i would climb the tree to eat the fruits, and to spy on my crush who was driving their family passenger jeep as a summer job…he eventually became my boyfriend for 2 yrs until he left for the big city of manila and we lost touch..that was before cell phones, computers, etc.

    32 circuitous years later, fate brought us together again–a happy ending to a story that began up and under a santol tree…

    Aug 27, 2009 | 8:20 am

  15. millet says:

    that’s itneresting because santol season just ended here in davao. we must have picked more than a hundred kilos of very sweet fruit from our single bangkok santol tree in the backyard from late june until last week. now it’s time to prune the branches.

    by the way, a bicolano friend used to give us ginataang santol, made with the grated flesh of santol, some bagoong, chili and lots of coconut milk.

    also, there’s a bangkok santol variety here that the sellers call “cotton” because the pulp is extra thick and soft…very much like….cotton! wonder if you’ve come across this variety.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 8:46 am

  16. NYCMama says:

    I have lots of wonderful childhood memories of santol! We had a great big tree at home, right next to a mango tree, and we strung a hammock in between both. I loved to be in the hammock reading my books! We lived around the corner from a Chinese grocery called Greenjoy, and they had these santol preserves I used to buy by the bagful, I think they were pickled, I remember a sweet and sour taste.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 9:21 am

  17. jadedfork says:

    hmm..i’m surprised sineguelas and cayimito did not make it to the favorite fruit poll.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 9:52 am

  18. Pebs says:

    Does anyone have the recipe for the ginataang santol mentioned by millet? The 1st time I tried it I though it was some kind of meat cooked with coconut milk! It was so good! Then I saw a recipe in the Inquirer and tried it. It came out pretty good, but I misplaced the recipe.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 10:15 am

  19. zena says:

    I grew up with a big santol tree that had those chicken pox leaves. I still remember their sweet taste and I ate it pure, sans salt and sugar. But I just ate the seeds, no flesh. The tree has been replaced by duhat which is so prolific that the branches sometimes break with the weight of fruit! I don’t eat it though. But friends and relatives say ours tastes sweet and they are ginormous! I can’t get over the aphud taste/texture no matter how I try. They also eat it shaken with salt.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 10:20 am

  20. betty q. says:

    MM, sana you said…NaFAkamahal naman ng tinda ninyo!…mwahahahaha!

    Yeah…Doc! FARA akong lukaret dito hagikhik!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 10:41 am

  21. Cris Jose says:

    Luckily we have a bangkok santol tree in our backyard…. :)

    Aug 27, 2009 | 11:12 am

  22. britelite says:

    super love this fruit!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 11:28 am

  23. britelite says:

    can somebody share a recipe how to preserve the santol with saline water?

    Aug 27, 2009 | 11:31 am

  24. betty q. says:

    Millet: next year…try SANTOL CHUTNEY!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 12:22 pm

  25. Marketfan says:

    Bicol dish is called sinantol. Yummy!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 12:37 pm

  26. edel says:

    yup, its santol season.. my neighbor just sent us “ginataang santol”- yum!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 1:30 pm

  27. cumin says:

    ria_K’s dish sounds like the santol sold in the market in Lucban, piled high on large washbasins. Yum!

    MM, your ‘imforted’ must be a relative of the wooden pushcart vendor in Diliman selling oranges, a handwritten sign saying SETROS. :-)

    Aug 27, 2009 | 2:08 pm

  28. betty q. says:

    Pebs: Searching the web on how to prepare the pulp, I think I would soak it in water first for a few days. Some say for 3 days changing the water each day to remove that dagta or funny taste. Then coarsely chop following MM’s recipe up above for Gata with santol and sugpo. I think it is like Bicol Express without all the siling haba…instead use the santol. I found Bangkok Santol at the Pinoy store last Sunday. I am going to try this dish!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 2:30 pm

  29. Beng says:

    I like santol too, but I like it as ulam lang just like the way my ninang prepares it. About a kilo of santol meat, 1/4 kilo of shrimps, some chillies, onions, garlic and a little alamang are thrown in the food processor. The mixture is then placed in a pot with about a liter of gata ng niyog (in San Pablo there are vendors who, aside from grating the coconut, does the squeezing too!). It will then be brought to a boil and then simmemered until some oil from the gata comes out. Serve hot with rice and some fried sinaing na tulingan. Haay… sarap!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 2:54 pm

  30. k. ramos says:

    We used to have a santol tree in our backyard, and our neighbor used to steal some fruit from us. They did offer their tambis when their tree had yielded fruit, though, so it was a sort of trade.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 2:55 pm

  31. Topster says:

    I never thought that those deformities (boil like appearances) on the leaves were due to a disease! I thought that Santol leaves were supposed to be that way. I saw my first Santol tree when I was 9 years old in 1985.

    Anyway, local Santol is always the best. Gotta love it in Sinigang with Bangus. Thanks MM, you helped me recall those childhood memories of making sungkit my lolo’s Santol tree.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 3:07 pm

  32. ria_K says:

    my parents come from bicol too. paracale, cam. norte to be exact. i do not remember my parents making saline water solution to put the grated santol in. they just mix the santol with coarse sea salt, and lots of it! then we’d store the mix in a big plastic container with a cover that can be sealed tightly. i don’t remember the mixture being too watery whenever i’d scoop out some.

    minsan pa nga, i’d really have this insatiable craving for sour stuff when i was a kid and i would sneak and take a scoop or two of the mixture , place it in a platito and eat it as it is…never mind the saltiness….sarap pa rin!!!!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 3:28 pm

  33. Mom-Friday says:

    that’s really some expensive santol! I love to eat it pickled style like what you see in Chinese delis that are soaked/preserved in sweet-salty-sour syrup in large garapon…all lined-up with the green mangoes, dates, and champoy. Eat them cold! yum!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 3:52 pm

  34. Nicole says:

    they are? oh wow I love eating santol! with a few sprinkling of rock salt yum!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 4:42 pm

  35. Jannah says:

    We used have santol trees in our back yard in Nueva Ecija but it has small fruits but sweet.Im quite a tomboy when I was young and used to climb the trees.

    My mom also used santol for fish sinigang and saluyot.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 5:01 pm

  36. Connie C says:

    After savoring the pulp, ever swallow the seeds then suffer sitting on the john reading “War and Peace”? I almost finished the book one time and I still kept dooing it. Hee, hee, hee.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 5:43 pm

  37. JiggsFlattops says:

    Wow! my mom lately cook Santol meat,she puts some alamang (shrimp paste) ,ground beef and gata (coconut milk) i don’t know what dish is that. i feel hungry already hehehe.we made some sinigang na bangus using the santol meat. i also remember when i was in grade school in our home economics subject we made some Santol Jam…

    Aug 27, 2009 | 6:58 pm

  38. millet says:

    uh-oh…a friend of mine died because he loved to swallow santol seeds. he had major tummy trouble, and when the doctors opened him up, they discovered nine santol seeds that had fermented and obstructed his intestines. he never recovered from the surgery.

    the small seemingly harmless-looking seeds are more lethal..they have flat, sharp edges that apparently can pierce the intestines. sorry to put a damper on such a cheery post, but i find that swallowing santol seeds is a habit with many people. after what happened to my friend, i have made it my “mission” to inform other santol lovers about the dangers of the habit.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 7:32 pm

  39. chrisb says:

    MM, I tried the Santol juice from a previous post. It was a hit at home!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 7:51 pm

  40. Rebecca says:

    Oh, my favorite!!! I wish these were avilable in NYC.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 8:07 pm

  41. Marketman says:

    chrisb, it is very light, like an infusion. I love i with lots of ice or ice cold… Actually, it oddly reminds me of a rhubarb juice I had in Paris the last time we were there….

    Aug 27, 2009 | 8:36 pm

  42. Connie C says:

    Thank God, Millet. I learned my lesson early enough or I wouldn’t be commenting today. It was quite addicting you know, as if by some uncontrollable urge….

    But on second thought, your friend may have some stricture or abnormal narrowing in his gut which did not allow the seeds to pass thru as they should, normally. Still, it really isn’t a good idea to swallow. Better safe than sorry.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 10:36 pm

  43. sunflowii says:

    bangkok santols are available in Toronto’s Chinatown at certain times of the year. for C$10 a piece sometimes. YIKES. but because hubby and i crave for it and we’re only doing this about once a year, we give in. for that and the mangosteen we’re willing to splurge.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 10:49 pm

  44. Mila says:

    Ah, my annual pavlovian salivary response, santol photo leads to memories of santol eaten in so many ways (also ate some santol bagoong a few years ago, interesting flavor but not one of my favorite bagoongs). One way I like it, is to remove the seeds (and suck on them for a bit before discarding), then score the meat, pickle with onions, peppercorns, vinegar and chillis. Eat as a sidedish to grilled meat and lots of garlic rice.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 11:41 pm

  45. noes says:

    I miss this fruit. My backyard used to have a santol tree. And the fruit is big and sweet.

    Aug 27, 2009 | 11:46 pm

  46. chrisb says:

    MM, yes it’s a very refreshing drink. You get all the flavor of santol without having the somewhat stringy pulp get stuck between your teeth from gnawing on the seeds! hehe And the slight astringency makes it perfect for hot muggy- days which is pretty much everyday here in Manila.

    Aug 28, 2009 | 12:52 am

  47. ariel says:

    MM, pahingi naman. I miss santol.

    Aug 28, 2009 | 2:12 am

  48. moni says:

    How do you make pickled or burong santol (as in pickled green mango in Ongpin)? Perhaps this is also what Britelite is asking. What proportion of salt to santol and water is best? I need to make this for my sisters who want to bring it back to SF. I hope the USDA quarantine people at the SF airport won’t have issues with pickled santol bringing in some insect pests.


    Aug 28, 2009 | 3:01 am

  49. mykulit says:

    We only have frozen santol available here in Chicago and have not dared to try those. Santol is definitely one of the fruits I miss from home.

    Aug 28, 2009 | 3:48 am

  50. natie says:

    mykulit, the frozen santol from thailand are ok–thawed, the insides taste good..

    Aug 28, 2009 | 5:12 am

  51. adamj says:

    Oh, santol! It’s one of those things that I don’t think to miss until someone mentions it, and then in my memory I’m instantly transported to 9 years old, climbing in the santol tree out front of our house in Mindanao! My sisters and I used to love finding the SOUREST fruit we could, to see who could handle it, who was the bravest.

    One year, with an overabundance of santol on our property, my mother tried her hand at santol marmalade – using the santol flesh in place of citrus peel. My mother wasn’t one for making jams in general; she was a terrific cook, so I think it was more her disinterest that was the problem. She only made this marmalade once, and it turned out a bit over-cooked, but it had a great flavor nevertheless, and there was definite potential there. MM, you could always try to make marmalade if you end up with too much fruit this year! But maybe Betty Q is right – santol chutney sounds delish …

    Aug 28, 2009 | 5:22 am

  52. thelma says:

    bangkok santol and sauteed bagoong sounds good. i hope that
    there are still santol in the market when i go there
    in october…

    Aug 28, 2009 | 6:44 am

  53. solraya says:

    You know how the fruits from your own tree are always the sweetest? Aside from the fact that you take pride, the freshness is the most important factor. Best when just off the tree :)

    For me, my santol is the best :) You have difficulty eating it because the seed is so thick with covering…and you end up bitin with that sweet taste. Feeling that there is more to it, but you get tired having it in your mouth wehhehehhe

    Juicing santol is so good and easy to make. Plus it seems bottomless as you just add water till you get no flavor.

    Aug 28, 2009 | 9:59 am

  54. betty q. says:

    Ohhhhh…I remember that Moni. So since you have access to santol…(LUCKY YOU!!!). ..make this. I think this is what you are looking for. Soak the meat in cold water for at least 2 to 3 days, changing the water everyday. On the third day, drain and then cut in strips (is it strips in Ongpin?), liberally sprinkle salt over the santol meat. Let it sit overnight. Next day, squeeze extracting as much salty liquid as you can. In a caldero, make a simple syrup:1 cup sugar to 1 cup water. Pour over the santol meat in the garapon and place in the cooler for 2 weeks.

    Now, I don’t know how many santols you have so you might need to make more simple syrup.

    Oh…those were the days….

    Aug 28, 2009 | 10:30 am

  55. Amateurcook says:

    Have you guys tried santol candy? We used to buy bags of them in Benguet from the state university co-op. Addictive!

    Aug 28, 2009 | 10:38 am

  56. kiko says:

    this is one tropical fruit i can say i’ve never seen in Australia…fortunately we were in the Phils about a month ago and made the most of the season (together with other tropical fruits)..i’ll be doing a post on this shortly…

    thanks once again MM!

    Aug 28, 2009 | 11:54 am

  57. moni says:

    Betty Q, many thanks. How about the seeds. The pickled green mango in Ongpin are strips. But the best part of santol is the seed. Can’t we just put the peeled santol in the solution that you suggested – water, sugar and salt and put in a garapon?

    Aug 28, 2009 | 12:14 pm

  58. betty q. says:

    Ok…My guess is you need to salt it just like cucumbers..to extract the liquid so it will be crunchy. Ever wondered why those dill pickles are ever so crunchy? Also doesn’t santol have that “aphud?” aftertaste? Are the pickled santol in Ongpin whole? That part I cannot remember! OR….how about this…make a brine: rock salt and water. Then peel your santol. I am asssumong you have this GINORMOUS Bangkok Santol which will be kind of difficult to squeeze! If it is this ginormous ones, maybe try to score the meat if you want it whole!

    Another option: make the pickle santol meat and freeze the seeds. When your sisters come, they can still enjoy your santol…imagine all the seeds they can eat to their hearts’ content!

    Ok..tom. morning I will head out to Vancouver to find santol at Pinoy stores and I will test this out for you! Oh, Moni…I already had my fill of Thai lanzones.

    Aug 28, 2009 | 12:38 pm

  59. marisa says:

    love santol… specially the native small sweet sour ones.

    Aug 29, 2009 | 1:50 am

  60. Marketfan says:

    Some pickled santol are whole fruits with just the outermost peel taken off and then the orange flesh is scored with a knife to expose some of the seeds and white meat inside. Then they are soaked in brine solution with maybe a bit of sugar added or the 5-spice powder they also use to make the pickled mangos in Chinatown.

    Aug 29, 2009 | 8:08 am

  61. moni says:

    Marketfan, many thanks for an easy way to come up with pickled santol. I will try it soon. Today we went to our fruit farm and
    found many santol fruits on the ground. I picked some up and opened them. A few had brownish discoloration on the seed — that’s the bruise from having dropped from a tall tree. The remaining few trees are quite tall and the bees have set up their homes there. I would be scared to disturb the bees.

    Betty Q, I just settled for lanzones and mangosteen. So many black ants crawling around the bunch of lanzones.

    Aug 29, 2009 | 4:58 pm

  62. Gener says:

    I have 8 stitches at my back and a broken arm! that was my experience with a backyard “SANTOL” many years ago!!

    Aug 29, 2009 | 5:05 pm

  63. choy says:

    Just bought ginaatang santol at SIDCOR this morning not to mention the Baliwag longganisa. Yummy!!!

    Aug 30, 2009 | 1:07 pm

  64. Anna Banana says:

    I’m going to make guinataang santol because of choy’s post! My mother bought 3 ginormous santol yesterday. I ate one by myself haha so now that I’ve satisfied my craving for santol au naturel I’ll try turning the two remaining santol into guinataan too. I googled and the recipes there just says, coconut milk, santol and shortening. Other secret special ingredients for guinataang santol?

    Sep 1, 2009 | 2:02 pm

  65. Pebs says:

    For guinataang santol, the recipe Beng said her ninang used looks similar to the one I tried before – with shrimps, alamang, chillies, onion, and garlic. Or maybe you can use bagoong.

    bettyq – have you had a chance to try making this?

    Sep 3, 2009 | 1:16 pm

  66. susan says:

    Can you find santols in th US?

    Sep 24, 2009 | 9:48 pm


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