Thursday, August 1, 2013
Have You Tasted a Mangosteen?
Mangosteen is known as the queen of tropical fruits in contrast to the Durian known as the King of tropical friuts. It is not related at all to the popular mangoes, known all over the world. In the Philippines It is not as popular as mangoes except probably in Davao, Mindanao. Sad to say, I have lived in the Philippines until I was 25 years old, but have never tasted a mangosteen, although I have heard about its delicious taste.
The Purple Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), colloquially known simply as "the mangosteen", is a tropical evergreen tree believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas of Indonesia. The tree grows from 7 to 25 m (20–80 ft) tall. The rind (exocarp) of the edible fruit is deep reddish purple when ripe. Botanically an aril, the fragrant edible flesh can be described as sweet and tangy, citrusy with peach flavor and texture.
There is a legend about Queen Victoria offering a reward of 100 pounds sterling to anyone who could deliver to her the fresh fruit. Although this legend can be traced to a 1930 publication by fruit explorer, David Fairchild, it is not substantiated by any known historical document yet is probably responsible for the uncommon designation of mangosteen as the "Queen of Fruit".
In his publication, "Hortus Veitchii", James Herbert Veitch says that he visited Java in 1892, "to eat the Mangosteen. It is necessary to eat the Mangosteen grown within three or four degrees of latitude of the equator to realize at all the attractive and curious properties of this fruit."
Due to ongoing restrictions on imports, mangosteen is not readily available in certain countries. Although available in Australia, for example, they are still rare in the produce sections of grocery stores in North America and Europe. Following export from its natural growing regions in Southeast Asia, the fresh fruit may be available seasonally in some local markets like those of Chinatowns. Mangosteen and its related products, such as juices and nutritional supplements, are legally imported into the United States, which had an import ban until 2007.
Mangosteens are readily available canned and frozen in Western countries. Without fumigation or irradiation as fresh fruit, mangosteens have historically been illegal for importation in commercial volumes into the United States due to fears that they harbor the Asian fruit fly, which would endanger U.S. crops. This situation, however, officially changed on July 23, 2007 when irradiated imports from Thailand were allowed upon USDA approval of irradiation, packing and shipping techniques.
Since 2006, private small volume orders for fruits grown on Puerto Rico were sold to American gourmet restaurants who serve the aril pieces as a delicacy dessert. Beginning in 2007 for the first time, fresh mangosteens were sold from specialty produce stores in New York City for as high as $45 per pound, but, during 2009-10, wider availability and lower prices have become common in the United States and Canada.
Before ripening, the mangosteen shell is fibrous and firm, but becomes soft and easy to pry open when the fruit ripens. To open a mangosteen, the shell is usually scored first with a knife; one holds the fruit in both hands, prying gently along the score with the thumbs until the rind cracks. It is then easy to pull the halves apart along the crack and remove the fruit. Rarely in ripe fruits, the purple exocarp juice may stain skin or fabric.