All About Mangosteen
This exotic tropical fruit originated in Indonesia, and is now grown mainly in Southeast Asia and portions South America. Recent experimentation of growth in South Florida and Puerto Rico will hopefully lead to its cultivation in the USA, making the hard to find fruit more common. The mangosteen’s flavor is difficult to describe, making it challenging to replace when called for in recipes. Lychees are referred to as being similar in flavor, but if a recipes calls for mangosteen, strawberries or mangos are recommended as a substitute.
Mangosteen has increased in popularity recently because of its health benefits. High in antioxidants, fiber and folic acid, the exotic fruit is said to help support proper digestion and nervous system function.
The mangosteen is only available for 6 -10 weeks during the summer months. The USA receives its mangosteens from Thailand. The fruit must be first be harvested there, and then shipped to the United States. This short growing season and long journey makes the fruit expensive.
How to pick it
The mangosteen was once believed to carry Asian fruit fly and was banned from the United States until 2007. No longer considered contraband, it is still rare to find mangosteen in North American grocery stores. Local Asia markets would be the best place to search for mangosteen during the summer months. Look for fruit with an outer layer dark purple in color. The fruit is quite uncommon in the United States so you can’t be too choosy, but mangosteens with tough outer skins without bruising are preferable. If leaves or stems are still intact they should be red or green in color. If the leaves are brown the fruit is most likely overripe. Freeze dried and canned mangosteen can be found in some markets, but the delicate flavor is lost significantly during the preserving process.
How to store it
Fresh mangosteen will stay good for about a month stored in the fruit drawer of your refrigerator.
How to prepare it
The dark outer coating if the fruit is inedible. Using a serrated knife, cut through the outer layer of coating, taking care not to cut through the fruit inside. Once you have cut through the outer layer, twist the two side to see if the outer layer easily can be removed easily. If the shell doesn’t budge you may have to cut a little deeper. Once the exterior has been cut all the way around, peel the exterior off exposing the white fruit in the center. The inner seeds are soft and edible so you do not need to go to the trouble of removing them.
Mangosteen fruit can be used in a variety of culinary ways. Use your mangosteen in jams, fruit salad, clafouti or smoothies.