About Mangosteen


(Garcinia mangostana) A small , slow-growing tree native to Malaysia which bears round fruit with four prominent sepals around the stem. The thick, dark purple shell protects small white segments which are thirst quenching, sweet with a hint to sourness, and delicious.

A curious fact about mangosteens is that if you look at the blossom end there is always a scar in the shape of a flower. You can predict with certainty that there will be the same number of segments in the mangosteen as there are petals on the 'flower'. There are usually 5,7 or 9, fruit with even numbers being quite rare. One or two of the segments will be twice the size of the others, and these contain soft seeds.

What to do with mangosteens? There is mangosteen sorbet, even mangosteen jam, but what luxury that the fruit should become so plentiful that one has to cast around for ways to use them. The undoubted best way of all is fresh and raw. They are sold canned in syrup, but don't form any opinion until you can taste a fresh mangosteen as this fruit does not translate well to canning.

Purchasing and storing : Look for shiny, undamaged fruit of deep purple color with no trace of the yellow latex which indicates bruising. Sotre at room temperature and eat within a few days. Don't attempt to freeze mangosteens, it completely destroys them. Just eat and enjoy.

Preparation : Opening a mangosteen is an acquired skill, the best way being to place (stem upwards) between the palms, fingers clasped over the fruit, and exert gentle pressure until the shell cracks open. If serving them at the table it may be better to use a sharp knife and cut only through the shell around the middle of the fruit, leaving the segments whole. Never cut through the segments. Lift off the top and offer the fruit in its own reddish-purple half-shell, for best effect. Once the segments are taken from the shell, they don't look quite as attractive.

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