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Mangosteens

Mangosteens

This purple-on-the-outside, white-on-the-inside tropical fruit is one of the most delicious, hard-to find ingredients around. But if you can get your hands on some fresh mangosteens, it's worth it.

Nutritional Highlights

  • The dietary fiber in the rich, pulpy center of a mangosteen helps facilitate digestion.
  • Mangosteen contains a good source of folic acid, a nutrient that plays a role in nervous system function.

History

Mangosteens have gotten some high praise over the years. Consider this blurb from author Desmond Tate in his book Tropical Fruit: "By popular acclaim, the mangosteen is held to be the most delectable of all the tropical fruits, and it has been proclaimed their queen. There is no doubt about the luxury of its taste. It has won unstinted praise down the ages from all who have encountered it." And that's one of the more restrained comments on the subject.

Mangosteens come from Thailand, which is essentially the U.S.'s only source of the fruit. Their delectable taste and seasonality make them hard to find. According to the New York Times, Queen Elizabeth I is said to have offered knighthood to anyone who could procure her one unspoiled. No one ever managed to.

Varieties

As a rare tropical fruit, there's really only one variety of mangosteen. (And, no, it's no relation to mangoes.) Also called purple mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), this fruit has a thick, purplish, inedible rind. But cut it open and you'll hear angels singing: On the inside, the mangosteen contains a delicious, pale white, multi-lobed fruit. Many connoisseurs prefer eating it raw, but you can also mix it into fruit salads or blend it into smoothies.

When are Mangosteens in Season?

Mangosteens are only available in the U.S. after being harvested in Thailand, which occurs during the warm summer months.

How to Choose Mangosteens

If you get the chance to pick some mangosteens from a grocer or Asian fruit market, you may not have much chance to be choosy, since these fruits are both rare and popular. However, a good mangosteen will be a bright, unblemished purple on the outside. Also, the harder the mangosteen's shell-like rind, the better. Skip over the soft or splotchy ones.

How to Store Mangosteens

If you'd like to keep ripe mangosteens fresh, place them in your fridge's fruit drawer. They'll keep there for up to a month.

How to Prepare Mangosteens

Getting to the white fruit means cutting open the mangosteen's outer rind, which can be quite tough and measure as thick as 1/2 inch. To do so, you'll need a serrated blade, like a steak knife or bread knife. Using a slow sawing motion, gradually cut down through the rind. Stop when you think you've reached the fruit, then use your finger to pry the rind apart. If it won't come open, saw some more.

Key Measurements

Typically, tropical recipes will call for one or more of the mangosteen's whole inner fruits, which are called "arils." These can be sliced, cubed or blended.

Substitutions

If you have to use a similar ingredient, try mangoes or strawberries.

Flavor Profile of Mangosteens

Mangosteen lovers find it very difficult to describe its flavor. Some have compared it to lychee, a sweet, juicy Chinese fruit. Others say it's something like a cross between mangoes, peaches and clementines. Mangosteens have a distinct, ambrosial savor that's difficult to place, much less replace.

Mangosteens in Recipes

Try adding mangosteen to any of our heavenly fruit recipes for an added taste of the tropics. You can spear mangosteen on these Fruit Kabobs with Tropical Fruit Coulis, add them to Gingered Fresh Fruit Salad or blend them into Tropical Smoothies.

Reviews & Comments

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