Pinoy Delight: THE SEASONAL SINIGUELAS

Another favorite fruit is siniguelas (Spondias purpurea), from the flowering plant family in the cashew family called Anacardiaceae. It is a seasonal, ovoid drupe1 fruit, 3-5 cm long and 2-3.5 cm broad, ripening red, sometimes yellow, and contains a single large seed, according to the Wikipedia page “Spondias purpurea”.2

Alas, it is only available in the Philippines during summer, and is becoming less and less abundant as the years go by, unlike when we, Seniors, were younger, when it wassold even by traveling vendors.

Most commonly known as jocote, this tropical fruit is also called ciriguela, cirigüela, cirguela, ciruela, ciruelahuesito (in Venezuela), hog plum, java plum, jobito (in Ecuador), purple mombin,2 purple plum3, red mombin3, red plum3, siwèl (Haiti), Spanish plum3, and wild plum3. It is commonly called “food of the gods” in the Philippines.4

It is native to tropical regions of the Americas and can be found from Mexico through Central America and down to Brazil. It is also very common in most of the Caribbean Islands.

The first time I saw a siniguelas tree with fruits, I was so delighted. It has a stout trunk and branches. It loses all its leaves during fruiting season, and what a site to see! The individual fruits are attached to the branches through a short thick stem, almost side by side.

The raw, firm, semi-ripe fruit is quite pleasing to the eye, even with its yellow-green skin and large patches of red. The smooth thin skin is firm but easily gives in to every bite. The flesh is very juicy and sweet. The texture of the mesocarp, or flesh, is firm, yet has the right softness to be chewed away from the seed. I do not like it when it is very green and unripe, or when it is very ripe and the flesh is very soft or soggy.

1-siniguelas-1         I enjoy it washed as is, or chilled in the refrigerator, and dipped in rock salt.

Others prefer eating it unripe, along with vinegar and salt.4 The single large lethal3 seed is not eaten. Remember, dear Seniors, our elders always advised us to eat this fruit in moderation because excessive amounts can lead to indigestion and hyperacidity, especially if taken on an empty stomach.3 Looking back, I always ate a lot at one sitting, and have not experienced a single tummyache to-date!

The ripe fruit is also popular for its medicinal uses and health benefits. It is high in ascorbic acid (good for boosting the immune system, controlling cholesterol, and acting as an antioxidant), amino acids (like lysine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan), calcium, phosphorus3 and dietary fiber.

It is used as diuretic (for the production of urine for cleansing the body) and antispasmodic (for preventing muscle spasms). The fruit is boiled and used as antiseptic for preventing infection of wounds and healing mouth sores. It is commonly used to clean wounds, burns and cuts. Its liquid extract has antibacterial capabilities. The fruit’s syrup is used to remedy chronic diarrhea or for preventing loose bowel movement.3

Siniguelas is also made into a tart or green sauce, jelly, vinegar or wine.3

I cannot wait for summer 2019 to savor this yummy fruit once more!

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1A drupaceous fruit is a stone fruit with an outer fleshy part (exocarp or skin and mesocarp or flesh) surrounding a single shell (pit or stone) of hardened endocarp with a seed (kernel) inside, according to the Wikipedia page “Drupe”.5 Examples are apricot, cherry, duhat, peach, plum and siniguelas.

2“Spondias purpurea,” accessed February 18, 2018,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spondias_purpurea

3 www.allaboutdiabetes.net

4 www.wattalyf.com

5“Drupe,” accessed February 18, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drupe.

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