Siniguelas, also known as Spanish plum (Spondias purpurea), is a typical summer fruit in the Philippines. Native to the Americas it is among the many plants and fruits that were originally brought to the Philippines from the Americas during the Spanish galleon trade in the 16th century.
The fruit resembles a large grape and is available only during the summer months. The skin of the siniguelas is often green when unripe and turns yellow or puple when ripe. After washing thoroughly the fruit is eaten with the skin on and the fleshy pulp has a pleasant sweet-tangy sour taste. It has a pit the size of a thumb and is spitted out.
A species of a flowering plant in the family Anacardiaceae, other common names include Red Mombin, Purple Mombin or Hog Plum. “Jocote,” the Spanish name for siniguelas is derived from the Nahuatl word xocotl (“fruit”).
Mabuhay ang siniguelas!
If there’s a Top 10 list of fav fruits in the Philippines, lanzones (Lansium domesticum) will easily land on the top 5.
This roundish, seasonal fruit contains a sweet translucent pulp that is surprisingly tasty and makes one to eat more than a handful. The lanzones tree is actually grown throughout the entire Southeast Asian ranging from Southern India to the Philippines. In the Philippines, the lanzones tree is grown mostly on the southern Luzon provinces of Paete, Laguna, where the conditions are favorable to the tree’s survival and flowering.
In Northern Mindanao, the provinces of Butuan, Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin are also known for other lanzones varieites. The Camiguin variety is particularly well-known for larger fruits with a sweet and succulent pulp.
Peeling the fruit takes some practice and the trick is to press the ends to expose the pulpy cores. Avoid biting on the small seed which leaves a bitter after taste. The rainy season of July and August are usually the best time for lanzones when high humidity ripens the fruit on trees.
The fruit also spawned several popular tales in Philippine mythology with stories of poisoned fruits, hence the name ‘lanzones’ which sounds like ‘lason’ or poison in Filipino. More like tall wives’ tales, the fruit is a perennial favorite for locals and visitors alike.
Mabuhay ang lanzones!
It has been said that the best mangoes (mangga in Filipino) in the Philippines can be found in Cebu. True or not, Cebu has a reputation of growing some of the best, sweetest and juiciest varieties of the Philippine mango. And there was a time when the province was amongst the biggest exporters (mainly to Japan) of the bigger, quality varieties that even locals have a hard time getting their hands on.
There are many varieties of mangoes in the Philippines and it has been reported that a book of records (Guinness?) had once described the Philippine variety called “Carabao” as the sweetest in the world.
An all-season fruit, mangoes are available in the Philippines throughout the whole year. But mango aficionados tell of the importance of picking or harvesting the fruit at the right way and time. Mangoes mature after three months and a half from the time its flower blooms. According to mango insiders, the fruit is at its best when carefully handpicked while still green and harvested between 9am- 3pm to prevent rapid exudation of the latex.
In any case, the mango is a versatile fruit and is used in a variety of Philippine desserts such as pies, sherbets, ice cream, candies and preserves. Visitors are advised to try the Philippine mango, the best of which contain a sliver-thin seed, juicy flesh and the sweetest, perhaps, the world over.
Mabuhay ang Mangga!
Atis is the Philippine name for sweet sop or sugar Apple. This strange-looking fruit, which looks like an alien space ball, is actually native to Central America,the Caribbean and northern South America. The fruit was introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish times when Spain and Central America were actively engaged in the galleon trade of the 16th century. One can say that the atis is one of the many ‘souvenirs’ from the Philippines’ Spanish colonial past.
It takes some patience to eat this fruit. Its sweet soft flesh is literally pock-marked with small black seeds, each individual pod practically containing several small seeds. It is only eaten when fully riped, spooned out, and while sucking on the fleshy parts the black seeds can easily be spitted out.
The bark, roots and leaves of the atis tree are known to contain medicinal properties, and before modern drugs were introduced in the Philippines, the bark or leaves are used to treat diarrhoea, colds, fevers, insect bites and a host of other minor ailments.
Mabuhay ang atis!