Ark of taste
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Batwan (Garcinia binucao) is a wild tree about 15 – 20 meters tall that grows in the forests of the Islands of Panay and Negros. Batwan bears fruits abundantly during the wet season and mature fruits hang on the main trunk and branches of the tree until harvested. Fruit is collected for both personal use and for sale on the market. A productive tree can give 50 – 100 kg of fruits in 6 months, and there are estimated to be 5000 productive trees on the two islands. There are two kinds of batwan, one with a thin skin and one with a thicken skin and flesh. The round fruits are 4 – 5 cm in diameter and contain 4 – 6 seeds. They are green in color, turning yellow when ripe. Their taste is sour, but not acidic, and not very aromatic. They can also be eaten raw.   Batwan is used as a souring agent in soups typical of the area. The soured broth, called sinigang, is not common in other parts of the Philippines. In Ilonngo cooking, it is considered the star ingredient in a dish called KBL, for kadyos (pigeon peas), baboy (pork) and langka (green jackfruit). Another common dish is paksiw, cooked with boiled batwan fruits. The fruits can also be preserved with salt and used as an appetizer.   There is little documented history on the batwan tree, but it is known to have been used since before World War II. There is even a local riddle related to the species. It goes: “I went to the forest and saw many trees, but one (bat-wan) I like best. Which is it?” Despite this established connection to the local culture, fewer people in the younger generations are using the traditional fruit in home cooking, due to the commercial souring agents now available for purchase in supermarkets. 

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Western Visayas (Region VI)

Production area:Negros and Panay Islands

Other info


Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Indigenous community:Ilonggo
Nominated by:Georie Pitong - Suzanne Alexandra S. Veloso