Mangosteens are a delicious treat often referred to as the “Queen of Fruit.” They’re about the size of a tangerine, and they have a thick purple shell which contains the soft, white edible fruit inside
Mangosteen is a tropical fruit about the size of a tangerine, averaging five to seven centimeters in diameter. It has a thick, smooth, leathery, burgundy-colored shell with about four to eight flat, woody lobes arranged in a rosette at the apex. Encased in the thick skin are an average of five or six triangular, floral-scented segments of white, juicy, soft flesh, which is either seedless or contains just a few flat seeds. The number of lobes at the outer apex of the fruit actually correlates to the number of segments inside. Mangosteens offer a sweet-tart tropical flavor with notes of lychee, peach, strawberry, pineapple, and caramel or butter.
Mangosteen offers a variety of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber and has been used to treat an array of health concerns, from blood sugar control to weight loss to maintaining healthy skin, though more studies on the fruit’s health benefits are needed to support certain correlations. Mangosteen also contains a unique type of plant compound called xanthones, which has shown remarkable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may lower the risk of certain diseases. Xanthones have even been praised as having anticancer activities, and in traditional medicine, mangosteen has been promoted as an alternative cancer treatment thanks to its potential ability to combat free radicals and improve the immune system.
Mangosteens are most commonly used in raw applications and are eaten fresh or juiced. Ripe fruits will be soft, yielding to pressure, and can be scored around the middle and then peeled fairly easily, despite the thick skin. Use a sharp knife to cut through the shell all the way around the middle, and lift off the top half. Be careful when removing the flesh from the other side, as the shell contains a purple juice that will stain. Mangosteens can also be canned or frozen, though some say that these methods compromise the delicate flavor and texture. Mangosteens are most often used for sweet applications like baked goods, beverages, and sorbet or ice cream, but they are also used in curry dishes in parts of Thailand and Goa. Companion ingredients include citrus, apple, pineapple, banana, kiwi, watermelon, pomegranate, butter, and vanilla. Mangosteens can bruise easily, which causes the inner flesh to harden, and they do not ripen any further once they are picked, so the fruit will start to degrade after it is harvested. Fresh fruits stored at room temperature should be consumed within a couple of days, while fruits kept in storage at around 10 degrees Celsius (note that this is slightly warmer than the standard refrigerator setting of 4 degrees Celsius) may last up to a few weeks.
Mangosteens are available from early summer through early winter.