A Purple Flower With The Name Beginning With China Mangosteen – The "Queen" of Fruits

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Mangosteen – The "Queen" of Fruits

What is Mangosteen?

The mangosteen fruit, although well-known in tropical and subtropical climates, is a relative unknown to most other countries. Given its name, mangosteen can easily be confused as a hybrid of mango. Although mangosteen and mango belong to the same family and grow in the same area, these two fruits not only look different, but also taste different.

The mangosteen fruit is roughly the same size as an orange, but has a purple skin. The outer rind of the mangosteen is very leathery, scarred and protects the delicious inner pulp. Each mangosteen fruit has a scar on one end, which shows the remains of a flower that once grew there. Interestingly, based on how many flower segments are still found in the stain, one can predict how many fruit segments will be found inside.

Mangosteen’s flavor has not been compared to any other fruit, hence the nickname “Queen of Fruits” or “Food of the Gods” on some Caribbean islands. Although its taste is difficult to describe, many compare it to a cross between a strawberry and an orange, with just a touch of sourness. However, the texture of the rich inner pulp resembles that of a ripe raisin. Traditionally, mangosteen is a fresh and unprocessed fruit. However, as it begins to gain popularity in countries around the world, mangosteen can be found canned or frozen and made into syrup, preserves and most popularly juice.

Origin of Mangosteen

While Chinese and Ayurvedic practitioners have known the high nutritional and medicinal value of mangosteen for hundreds of years, it was first “discovered” by French explorer Laurentiers Garcin in the 1700s. It is from him that the scientific name of mangosteen is derived, Garcinia mangostana.

The mangosteen tree does not grow well as a “wild plant” and does better when cultivated in the right climate. Most of the trees are found in Thailand, a country so fond of the mangosteen, it adopted it as its national fruit.

Although attempts have been made to grow orchards, due to their fastidious growth pattern and unpredictability of harvest time, mango trees are mostly found along the banks of rivers or ponds, as the roots of the trees require almost constant moisture.

Due to government regulations, the importation of fresh mangosteen fruit into the United States is illegal. Fear of the destructive Asian fruit fly entering the country has mostly prevented the fruit from crossing the border, although one can occasionally find mangosteen fruit on the shelves of small Asian grocery stores. And since mango trees grow only in certain climates, efforts to cultivate the fruit in the country have not yet met with “fruitful” success.

Also making mass production of mangosteen difficult, the tree takes many years to bear fruit after planting. From the time a mangosteen seed is planted, it will take ten years or more for the growing tree to bear fruit. Uncharacteristically for a tropical fruit tree, the mangosteen tree will only grow to a height of 10 to 20 feet. Once they mature to full growth, an average tree will produce approximately 500 mangosteen fruits per harvest. However, the longer the mango tree stands, the higher the yield. There are reports of 30-year-old mango trees bearing up to 2000 fruits in one season.

Enjoying Mangosteen

As mentioned, the importation of mangosteens into the United States is currently illegal due to health regulations. However, fresh mangosteens can be found in Thailand, the Philippines, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Cuba, rarely in Puerto Rico, and scattered countries around the West Indies.

Be careful while eating fresh mangosteen. The outer rind is very hard and leathery, and the deep purplish-red sap of the umbel stains anything it comes in contact with. Traditionally, mangosteens should be peeled by hand, not cut with a knife. As the pulp begins to split open, bits of the delicious fruit inside can be peeled off. To fully enjoy mangosteens, the tough, leathery outer skin should be removed before eating, as the juice from the skin is very bitter and unpleasant.

It is possible to find canned mangosteen; However, it is well known that through the canning process, much is lost in terms of fruit flavor. In the Philippines, many of those who try to preserve the fruit first boil it in a heavy brown sugar syrup.

Other uses of mangosteen

Mangosteen pulp is sometimes used in tanning leather, and the tree’s twigs are favorite “chewsticks” for people in Ghana, but the most popular alternative uses of mangosteen are nutritional and medicinal.

From Singapore to China, various aspects of the fruit are used to treat and cure a variety of medical problems. From dysentery to eczema, it appears scientifically that mangosteen has many beneficial uses.

It is believed that the reason mangosteen is so powerfully beneficial is its high levels of xanthones, which are biologically active plant phenols that are somewhat similar to flavonoids. Many fruits contain xanthones, but mangosteen appears to contain at least 40 of the 200 types of xanthones currently found, making it incredibly rich in nutritional properties. Indeed, it is somewhat of a “wonder fruit”, as it is the only fruit yet known to science to contain such a high percentage of xanthones.

In addition, mangosteens are also high in many other essential nutritional properties, including fiber, calcium, iron, and thiamine.

Given its delicious taste and exponential nutritional value, mangosteen truly deserves its nickname – “Queen of Fruits.”

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