We were fortunate enough that during our recent holiday to the country we were able to get our fill of this “unique” tropical fruit. It’s “unique” in the sense that I’ve never seen them sold anywhere in Australia.
Friends have told me they are sometimes available in an Asian market west of Brisbane but I think they were all just lying.
I find it a little bit difficult to describe this fruit as I don’t think it is similar to anything. The closest, I suppose, is mangosteen. Naturally, other cultures call santol “wild mangosteen”.
The ripe fruit is pleasantly tart but some varieties are too sour to be eaten raw. They can be used as a souring agent or made into preserves. One unique Laguna dish is called “sinantolan”. The rind is turned into pulp and mixed with coconut cream and spices. What you then get is a creamy soury dish eaten on its own or as a side to fish and grilled meats.
One morning during that holiday I chanced upon a couple of the neighborhood boys who were picking these fruits from a tree outside the house. What follows are just a series of photographs of that morning’s affair.