Monday, March 19, 2012

What Is Mangosteen Fruit?

What Is Mangosteen?

What Is Mangosteen?thumbnail 

Mangosteen is a tropical fruit, sometimes known as purple mangosteen because of its dark purple skin. It is valued for its sweet flesh and for juice. Mangosteen juice, which is derived from the whole fruit, has a number of health benefits

The mangosteen fruit is one of the most revered fruits in Asia, who consider it the "queen of fruits." In the Caribbean, it's known as the "fruit of the gods." The mangosteen is a dark purple fruit with white edible segments inside, and bears no relation to the more familiar mango fruit. The mangosteen has a distinct flavor that many describe as a mixture of strawberry, peach and vanilla. Long recognized for its antioxidant properties, the mangosteen can be classified as one of the "super fruits" for its contribution to good health.

History of the Mangosteen

  • The mangosteen, or Garcinia mangostana, was named for Dr. Laurentiers Garcin, a French doctor, priest and explorer, who was the first to scientifically study the mangosteen. He noted its long-standing use in traditional Asian medicines, as reference to such use was found in records dating back to the Ming Dynasty in China.
    The mangosteen is the national fruit of Thailand, and is common throughout southeast Asia. Legend holds that Queen Victoria of England so loved the mangosteen that she offered varying rewards -- from money to knighthood -- to anyone who could bring her a mangosteen in pristine ripeness.

Growing the Mangosteen

  • The mangosteen is a very slow-growing fruit tree. Young trees do not produce fruit generally until 10 years of age. The prime harvest period for most mangosteen trees is between 20 and 45 years old, with many trees still producing fruit after 100 years. Mangosteen trees can grow to be as tall as 75 feet, and harvesting must be done by hand, as the result of a hard fall can severely damage the fruit.
    Mangosteen trees need humid, tropical environments to thrive and produce fruit. Because of the specific environmental requirements, cultivation of the mangosteen has been largely confined to plantations in its native habitats of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Expansion of mangosteen cultivation has been attempted in Sri Lanka, South India, Central and South America, Australia, Brazil, and Florida and Hawaii in the United States, all with mixed results and only small harvests where the cultivation has been successful.

Selecting Fruit

  • When selecting a mangosteen from the market, choose fruit that is dark purple with fresh green leaves on the stem. The fruit should be firm, and the color should be consistent, with no blotchy or discolored areas. Avoid fruit with yellow patches on the skin or brown leaves and stems, both of which indicate an overripe fruit.

How to Eat a Mangosteen

  • Fresh mangosteen are best opened using only your hands. Within the first few days of harvesting, the purple rind of the fruit remains soft, and the fruit inside can be exposed with a gentle squeeze and twist of the rind. If possible, avoid using a knife to prevent damage to the fruit segments inside.
    Outside of major cultivation areas, mangosteen fruit are likely to be several days away from ripeness. At that point, the outer rind will be hard you will have to use a knife. Run the knife at a shallow level around the rind of the fruit, parallel to the stem. The rind is very bitter and the stains from the rind are difficult to remove, so be careful not only to avoid spilling the juice from the rind onto stainable services (including skin) but also to avoid mixing bits of the rind with the inner fruit.
    Once opened, the edible inner segments will be seen. Generally, one segment will contain the seed(s), so take care when eating the individual segments.

Health Benefits

  • The mangosteen has long been recognized in Asia for its medicinal properties. The fruit is mentioned in medical diaries as far as back as the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D.-1644 A.D.). Both the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the mangosteen are recognized widely in scientific literature and folklore medicine. In addition, the mangosteen has been shown to function as an immunomodulator, boosting the antiviral and antibacterial functions of the immune system. The mangosteen is also recognized as the greatest natural source of xanthones, a family of powerful antioxidants. In addition to cultivation of fresh mangosteens, several companies have launched production of mangosteen juice, which has a longer shelf-life than fresh mangosteens and is easier to export internationally.


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