Juicy cotton might not sound like the most appealing description for a fruit, but that’s exactly what santol fruit is – and it’s delicious.
What Does Santol Taste Like?
The pillowy white pulp of the santol – which inspired its English name, cotton fruit – has a milky and sweet flavor with floral notes and hints of tart citrus. Its taste has been compared to a milder peach or apple.
The santol rind is also edible and, in contrast to the creamy pulp, has a sharp sour flavor with a savory, vegetal undertone.
How to Eat Santol
To open the santol, cut horizontally through its thick rind until you feel your blade touch the soft pulp. Then, continue to cut around the fruit until you’ve halved the skin. For smaller fruits, you can also crush the whole fruit between your palms to achieve a similar effect. Once you pull the two halves apart, one half should have all the pulp in it.
The pillowy pulp of the santol is difficult to separate from its inedible, sharp seeds so you can gently pull the flesh off the seeds with your teeth as you eat or simply suck the juice out and discard the rest. You can also separate the fruit’s rind from its skin and eat it with salt or sugar.
What to Do with Santol
Both the pulp and the rind of santol can be used in cooking. The sweet pulp is more commonly used in desserts and drinks while the astringent rind is a popular souring agent for savory dishes.
Deseed the santol’s fluffy white pulp and use it to make jam, preserve, or candied fruit. Use the candied or preserved santol to top creamy desserts like this silky sous vide flan or serve the remaining syrup with waffles or butter mochi. Grate the santol rind or blend it and strain its juice to add to curries, soups, and sauces. Try adding santol rind to coconut curry salmon or coconut curry pork. It pairs particularly well with milky flavors like coconut, bright citrus flavors, and pungent-salty flavors like fish sauce or anchovy paste.