Sineguelas / Spanish Plum

The heat is sweltering and summer is probably nearing its peak. sineg1 The leafy greens and water dependent vegetables that were so abundant and so robust just weeks ago are now disappearing from the markets (or at least available to a much lesser degree), and the focus on produce is shifting to root crops and all of those summer fruits. Several fruits are ripening simultaneously in an annual effort to propagate themselves and seed the countryside before the rainy season… Sineguelas is another one of those “childhood memory fruits” that conjure up images of summer, beach holidays, or hanging out in a neighbor’s backyard shooting the breeze and munching on these summer gems. Sineguelas (Spondias purpurea) or Spanish Plum in English, is a native to Mexico and the western coast of Central and South America. Brought over by the Spaniards, it has taken very well to the Philippine archipelago and thrives here, according to Doreen Fernandez.

The fruit are approximately 1 to 1.5 inches in length and start off purplish or maroon green and ripen to a yellow or dark red state. The skin is taut and shiny and the flesh firm when unripened and slightly astringent (I like them this way) or soft, sweet and mushy when they are truly ripe. sineg2They are in season from April to June or so but they seem to peak in May. Although mostly consumed as a fruit, some regions cook the raw fruit in sinigang or use it in kinilaw according to Doreen Fernandez’s book on Philippine Fruit. In other countries, the fruit is made into jelly, pickled in vinegar, or dried to preserve the fruit. In my early teens, I ate kaing (large basket measure) after kaing of this fruit. On a trip to Cebu to visit my grandmother, she asked me and a British friend what we would like from the market and we said “sineguelas” and a whole kaing appeared in the house later in the day… we consumed so much it that it caused serious plumbing problems and the methane we released over the next 24 hours was probably enough to fire up a small stove! Recently at the market, sineguelas were PHP50 a kilo but that should decline further in the next few weeks as supply increases dramatically.


32 Responses

  1. i am currently eating this fruit here in cebu! its a nice coincidence that while eating sineguelas, i opened your site and then you have a write up on good old sineguelas! :)

  2. Siniguelas – or sarguelas here in Negros where Doreen comes from – is a fruit that also reminds me of summer and my childhood (we used to have 2 really big trees in our garden and we spent most of our summer playing in those trees). I like them soft and ripe, put them in the fridge and later suck the juice out of the fruit – yum! I just knew that it’s also known as the Spanish plum. I wonder how dried siniguelas tastes like. Thanks to you!

  3. Siniguelas tops the list of my favorite fruits. Finally, I learn from your site the English name for it – Spanish Plum. I’ve always wondered what it was. I could never give foreign hotel guests the English name of this fruit.

    Too bad I can’t have any here in Malaysia. I truly, truly miss them. My mouth is watering just looking at your photos.

  4. wow, i miss this so much. we used to put it in a bowl, and
    put a lot of salt and shake shake it, till all of them were covered with salt. and enjoy them.

  5. Hay naku, sarguelas at asin, nakakalaway at kung marami kang kinain sira talaga ang tiyan mo.

  6. Thank you to all the readers who have left first time comments! I have noticed that my posts on childhood or memory fruits get a lot of attention. Funny how food from the past leaves such strong memories.

  7. MM food as I said before is evocative it wakes up memories..I have forgotten this fruit until I read it here, my saliva is oozing…hayy asin.
    Your site really is pushing me to go “home” this year…

  8. I agree with you in your posts. These fruits are evocative of golden childhood summers!When my family used to vacation in my grandparents place in San Joaquin, Iloilo, we used to go up our “own” sineguelas or duhat tree, stay up there the whole afternoon and eat the fruits. Sure beats computer games nowadays!

  9. Sineguelas are in my top 5 favorite fruits, along with lanzones and duhats. I bought a kilo of sineguelas and 2 kilos of duhat recently, and have been gorging on them at home, with good kosher salt sprinkled over them after a quick chill in the fridge. I guess that’s also why I haven’t been too social lately, since, as you put it, the plumbing and gas problems go hand in hand with overeating these fruits. :)

  10. Childhood memories were indeed precious. We had a tree
    once and love it. Actually miss it now. Even tried
    the fresh leaves(young ones) when i was a kid and it was
    yummy :)

  11. pls help me guys with the sineguelas.. i’m researching on the anti-inflammatory property of sineguelas seed.. but the sources are so limited, i’m really having hard time.. pls have time to help me.. :)

  12. Nick, have you made it to this Purdue University site yet??? Look it up as it has fairly comprehensive information on plants and fruits. This link – -should give you a lot of good information on sineguelas, which comes from the Americas but better yet, at the end of the article is an extensive bibliography. By the way, Doreen Fernandez’s book does mention that the bark deconcoction is used as an anti-dysenteric…

  13. My sineguelas tree has a lot of fruits right now. Friends come to my house just to have a taste of this fruit. I
    live in Hawaii and lucky to have one in my backyard.

  14. Good grief Rufie, how lucky you are. There are probably hundreds of homesick filipinos on the mainland just dying for a taste of a fresh sineguelas! Didn’t know it grew in Hawaii… you learn something every day.

  15. thanks for the idea.. (english name of siniguelas) now im thinkin’of the english name of santol. thanks anyways..God bless. :o)

  16. hmm interesting, i dont think i know this fruit. is it similar to the sawo here in Indonesia? thanks!

  17. Do they ship siniguelas to the U.S. ? I miss eating sigs. I can almost taste them right now.

  18. the tree of this succulent fruit is also amazing because it is low and thick foliage during off-peak. it offers very good shade (just like the talisay tree). but as it approach harvest time, you will mistake it for a dead tree with all it’s leaves gone and revealing its ash-gray bark and the its fruit sticking on the branches. a first-timer would mistake it for a burnt tree!

  19. i can’t resist not to eat that fruit for an hour…
    its just so great like you’ll give up everything just for that…
    Hey yoh… the english name of siniguelas is chayote and most of all…., being a first timer eater is a great experience of mine….

  20. “I loVe thiz fRuit for tHe reAson that it’S my SIP & iT’s realLy nIce to eat”…..=)

  21. My co-worker from Mexico just walked in and asked me to taste the fruit that she brought from home, and to my surprise I was eating siniguelas. Mexicans call this fruit “siruelas”, very close to how we Filipinos call it. I have not ate this fruit for 20 years. Thank you Ana!!!

  22. I wanted to know what are the nutrients that i would get from eating sineguelas… thank you

  23. oh!!!!!!!!how i love and miss this delicious fruit frommy childhood in ligao city.i cant wait to go home…i can never find them here in australia.its only in my hometown that i can have this fruit again.wish we still have the tree where we used to get this fruits before in my younger days….

  24. Love this fruit too. Just has them on my last quick visit to Cebu. I eat them, salt or no salt. I worry about the methane gas later!

  25. hi
    i have a seed it came from a fruit that grow in philippine it’s like a eggshell grape with a big black seed in the middle i don’t know the name of it or how to make it grow it really look like spanish plum but it taste like grape.thanks to help me.

  26. Nice article. I have been living in Canada for about 20 years and i have never been back. I remember this fruit when i was a child and right now i am having a hard time locating this fruit in Canada. Is there any law that permits this fruit from being exported?? If not, where can i buy them. Thanks

  27. I like this fruit. Does anyone know how to grow siniguelas? Where is the best place to plant this tree?

  28. miguellatigo, sineguelas ripen quickly, so generally don’t travel well… maybe that is one of the reasons they aren’t readily available in your neck of the woods…



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