The purple mangosteen fruit grows on the tropical evergreen tree known as the mangosteen tree. The fruit is offered referred to as simply mangosteen. It is native to Indonesia and grows throughout Southeast Asia and Southwest India. Recently, it has been introduced to tropical areas like Puerto Rico and Florida.
After cutting, the white edible sections can easily be removed and eaten. The white fleshy sections have a similar texture to a peeled grape except maybe a little smoother. All of the sections have seeds. most of the seeds are small and can easily be chewed. One of the section has a larger seed like a small pit (the size of an almond) and shouldn’t be eaten.
The growing season for mangosteen is only about six to ten weeks, resulting in limited availability. Because of strict import regulations having to do with the Asian fruit fly, mangosteens weren’t available in the United States before 2007. They are still very difficult to find in the U.S. and when they are available, they are very expensive. More readily available are canned mangosteen or beverages containing mangosteen. One notable beverage that uses the mangosteen is Xango Juice. My mom has been drinking Xango Juice for years. For several years my mother-in-law was also drinking it. It claims to have numerous health benefits because it uses the rind which has many of the same antioxidants as blueberries. The actual edible part of the fruit is limited in nutritional value.
Living in Japan, I have the opportunity to enjoy mangosteen fruit. Ironically enough, I purchased the mangosteen fruit at Costco! I purchased a bag of eight mangosteens at Costco for less than ¥1000. This was my second experience tasting them. The first was during out Thailand trip. They were significantly cheaper in Thailand. I think I paid the equivalent of $5 for a package of eight.
In Thailand, I purchased mangosteen that were already cut. I broke out our large chef knife anticipating difficulties cutting through the rind. Surprisingly, they were very easy to open. The rind was very soft and the knife cut through it very easily allowing me to split the fruit apart.
They mangosteen is tender and juicy. It has a sweet and slightly sour taste. They remind me a lot of a sweet tangerine mixed with a tart grape. They are a fun and relatively inexpensive treat. (less than $1.00 per fruit – cheaper than the $20 carton of California cherries at Costco!) Also, I feel special eating them because I know I wouldn’t be able to buy them in the U.S. They will not replace my love for freshly picked strawberries, however, they are a special delicacy I can enjoy while I am living in Japan!