Santol (กระท้อน)

(Sandoricum koetjape)

Santol is known also as wild mangosteen. Its structure really reminds a mangosteen – hard rind, garlic-like flesh with inedible seeds. While it looks more like a big peach or a plushy orange.

Taste of santol

Despite of appearance, santols flavor has nothing to do with mangosteen. Santol has (less or more) sour taste, as unripe peach does. The middle of santol is sweeter. Seems like it is a fruit of wild-grown tree.

How to eat santol

The rind of santol is edible. You just need to get rid of plush layer. You can:

  • Either peel plush layer of santols rind (like we do it with potatoes) and eat santol like an apple, until you reach seeds.
  • Or cut santol in 6-8 wedges (like an apple), start eating the inner part and stop when you reach plush layer.

Be very careful with seeds.

At first sight seeds don’t look dangerous, they are covered with pulp. But if one swallows santol’s seed, the flesh will dissolve in stomach and hard edges of the seed will cut like a knife (intestinal obstruction and perforation can even lead to one’s death in ~20% of cases).

Santol is not the sweetest fruit, so Thais like to eat it with a pinch of salt and spices. Also people of Thailand cook dishes with unripe santols:

  • Som tam salad (ตำกระท้อน)
  • Pork curry (แกงหมูกระท้อน)
  • Curry with prawns (แกงคั่วกระท้อนกุ้ง)

Some people like to eat santols pulp only. Well, it’s a matter of taste – just go and buy your first santol, make your own conclusion, whether you like pulp or rind or none of them.

Green santol
Unripe santol in Chanthaburi

How to choose, transport & store

If you want to choose a ripe santol, first of all you need a vendor, who sells ripe santols. There’s a high risk to buy a kilogram of unripe fruit, if there’s a sale of “vegetable” santols. How can the vendor know for which purpose you need his santol? For eating or for cooking? If you search the fruit for eating, avoid slightly green santols. Ripe fruit should be of intense orange (yellow-red, brown) color.

Santols can be easily transported without damages. Ripe fruit should be stored in a fridge (~1 week). The riper santol is, the less it can be stored.

When and where to buy

The season for santols is the summer. Usually they can be found in markets for locals. Also santols can be sold from pickups or at temporary single-fruit stalls. Santol is cheap fruit, the price starts from 15 THB per kilo.

Santol tree
Branches of santol tree, full of fruit

Source of the 1st picture of my article is Wikipedia, the author of picture is Steve.

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