(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.