I am in love with Mangosteens – probably my favourite fruit right now. The only problem is that we have reached the end of its season and I’ll probably have to wait a few more months before they are being sold on the markets again.
‘By popular acclaim,’ writes the British-born Malaysian author Desmond Tate in Tropical Fruit, ”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.’
I could not agree more. The sweet flavour is a combination of litchis, peaches and clementines – but the taste is much more than that. Merely typing the name makes my mouth water.
The botanical name of a mangosteen is garcinia mangostana, and most botanists believe that it originates in Malaysia or Indonesia. They are still grown there, among other places including India and Queensland, Australia. Fruits are borne on very slow-growing evergreen trees with glossy, dark green leaves and pyramid-shaped crowns. At maturity the trees, which require high humidity and heavy rainfall, can reach 40 feet in height and yield up to 1,000 fruits a year. You can tell when the fruit is ripe: just squeeze them. They should yield to pressure and should have no hard spots. The darker the color the better the taste.
You just cut it open (carefully, just around in a circle – don’t cut too deep, you don’t want to damage the white segments) and take the lid of. Then you can squeeze out the white flesh.
Chinese belief that the primary forces influencing bodily health are heat and coolness and Mangosteen are believed to be the cooling opposite to the hot durian fruit. Many Asians therefore like to consume the two fruits at the same time. I’ve not tried this yet, but there’s always a first time for everything…