Unique for its appearance and flavor, mangosteen is often revered as "the queen" of tropical fruits, particularly in the South-East Asian regions. This exotic, round, purple color fruit is quite popular for its snow-white, juicy, delicious arils all over the Asian countries, and in recent years by the European and American fruit lovers as well!
Botanically, it is the fruit belonging to the family of Clusiaceae, in the genus: Garcinia. Scientific name: Garcinia mangostana. Known as "Mangkhud" in Thai, Thailand is the largest producer and exporter of mangosteens.
Note deep purple color fruit with light green calyx.
|Fresh fruits in the market. Photo courtesy: goosmurf.|
Mangosteen plant is an evergreen, erect tree reaching about 20- 60 ft in height. It commonly found in tropical rainforests of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines as well as in some cultivated orchards in Sri Lanka, and India, where annual precipitation and relative humidity are favorable for its growth. Fresh purple fruits can be available in the markets from June until October.
Each tree bears several deep purple, round shaped fruits capped with light green calyx at the stem end. Completely matured fruit measures about 3-7 cm in diameter. Its outer tough rind is about 7-12 mm thick which contains bitter yellow latex that stains clothes black.
Internally; the fruit features 4 to 10 juicy, snow-white, soft, fleshy, triangular segments as in oranges. Each segment may carry 1-4 off-white colored seeds. Seeds are inedible and bitter in taste. The flavor of the fruit can be described as sweet, mildy tangy, fragrant, and delicious.
|Lemon-drop, and African mangosteens (Imbe).
The fruits are smaller than purple ones.
Photo courtesy: I like plants
Different species of Garcinia genus are grown all around the Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America all along the tropical belt. Cherapu or Button mangosteen (Garcinia prainiana) is native to Malaysia. It features somewhat flat, mandarin orange-like shape with thin rind that can be peeled very easily by hand, again as in oranges.
Lemon drop mangosteens (Garcinia madruno) are small size (2-4 cm diameter) fruits, native to Malayan peninsula.
African mangosteen or Imbe (Garcinia livingstonei) is native to West Africa. They are slightly larger than lemon drop type.
Delicious and juicy, mangosteen is one of the popular tropical fruits. It comprises of an impressive list of essential nutrients which are required for normal growth and development and overall nutritional well-being.
It is moderately low in calories (63 calories per 100 g) and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, it is rich in dietary fiber (100 g provides about 13% of RDA).
Mangosteen is good source of vitamin C and provides about 12% of RDA per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful water soluble anti-oxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin-C helps human body develop resistance against viral-flu and help scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free-radicals.
Fresh fruit is a moderate source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin and folates. These vitamins are acting as cofactors the help body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Further, it also contains a very good amount of minerals like copper, manganese and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids and helps control heart rate, and blood pressure, thus, it offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.
Mangosteens can be available fresh during summer months. Completely matured, deep purple color fruits are either picked up by hand or using hook-and-basket method as in mangoes, carefully handling without damaging them. Injury to outer skin results in percolation of bitter-latex into the edible flesh turning the whole fruit bitter and inedible.
Mangosteen is now readily available in the supermarkets across the United States. While buying, look for fresh fruits that feel heavy in hand with firm green calyx at the stem end, and clean, bright purple outer surface since they signal fresh arrival from East Asian orchards. Avoid those appearing dry and blotched skins as they may indicate old stock.
At home, ripe fruits should be placed in cool well-ventilated place where they keep well for up to two weeks. For extended keeping quality store them inside the refrigerator.
Wash fruit in water to remove surface dust. Fresh fruit has a thick soft rind, quite like in pomegranate but thicker in size. In general, the fruit is scored through the rind around an equatorial circumferential fashion using a paring knife, and its upper half pulled up gently using the thumb to expose delicious, snow-white arils inside.
Prolonged exposure to hot conditions may cause its outer skin dry, brittle and may pose problems while peeling its rind.
|Inside of the mangosteen. Note for the snow-white segments (arils).|
Here are some serving tips:
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