What is santol fruit?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “What is santol fruit?” We will also discuss the taste of santol fruit, where it comes from, and how we can eat it. Moreover, we will also talk about the uses of santol fruit.

What is santol fruit?

The santol fruit is a round to oval fruit about the size of an apple with a flattened shape. Its botanical name is Sandoricum koetjape and is a member of the Mahogany or Meliaceae family. It is also sometimes known by other names such as Sentul or cotton fruit. The fruit is one of only two edible fruits in this family.

There is a white juicy tissue inside the fruit with 3-4 brown seeds. The skin is leathery, wrinkled, a little fuzzy, and green. The santol fruits turn golden yellow as it matures. It may also occasionally have a red blush on it. Depending on the variety, the thickness of the peel beneath the surface can range from thin and fibrous to thick and spongy.

What does santol fruit taste like?

Santol fruit has a milky, sweet flavor with floral overtones and a hint of sour citrus. It is well known for its perfectly balanced sweet and sour flavors. It is often compared to the flavors of peach or apple but much milder. 

It has a pillowy white pulp or white juicy tissue. The English name of santol fruit commonly known as cotton fruit was derived from there. Santol rind is also edible, but it tastes sharply sour with a savory, natural plant undertone as opposed to the creamy pulp.

The tissue can be sour even when the fruit is ripe. People in some parts of Southeast Asia eat the fruit even while it is still sour. However, as the fruit matures, it transforms into a sweet, vinous fruit. 

Where does santol fruit come from?

Santol fruit comes from the santol tree. It is a tropical tree that thrives at lower elevations. The tree grows very quickly, and typically reaches a height of between 15 and 40 meters. The branches fall close to the ground as the tree ages. 

Its leaves are spiral-shaped, and evergreen and can get as long as 10 inches. The santol tree has long flowers that have greenish, yellowish, or sometimes pinkish hues. These flowers form stalked panicles on the young branchlets.

Talking about the santol fruits, these trees typically start bearing fruit between 5 and 6 years of age. Around 19,000 to 24,000 fruits can be produced annually by one mature tree in its prime. The ripe fruits are harvested by either handpicking or clamping the ripe fruits.

How to eat santol fruit?

The proper way to eat santol fruit is by cutting the fruit horizontally through the thick rind. Cut through until you feel the soft pulp of the fruit under your blade. Keep cutting around the fruit until the skin is cut in half. 

You can simply squeeze the whole fruit between your palms if the fruits are smaller in size. Doing this will separate the edible pulps from the surface, one half should contain all the pulp when you separate the two halves.

You can also gently pull the flesh off the seeds with your teeth as you eat or just suck the juice out and throw the rest of the pulp and seeds. The fruit’s rind, which can be separated from its skin, can also be eaten with salt or sugar.

What are the uses of santol fruit?

Santol fruits are mostly consumed raw since their sweet and sour flavors make an excellent choice for raw applications. However, just because it is better suited for raw consumption does not mean that it cannot be used for other purposes. 

Santol fruits can also be used to make jams, marmalades, jellies, syrup, salads, cocktails, as well as beverages. It can also be cooked or preserved in sweet syrup or turned into candies. All these forms of santol make a great sweet delicacy.

In Thai cooking, santon is a key ingredient in santol pork, several different prawn curries, and a spicy salad recipe known as som tam. The fruit is the main component of sinantolan, a dish made from grated santol fruit rinds, and it is also used as a souring agent in many milkfish and sour broth dishes in Filipino cuisine. Find the recipe for authentic sinantolan here.


In this brief guide, we have  answered the query, “What is santol fruit?” We have also discussed the taste of santol fruit, where it comes from, and how we can eat it. Moreover, we have also talked about the uses of santol fruit.