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What is Mangosteen?

It is called mangostan by the Spanish, mangostanier, mangoustanier, mangouste, or mangostier by the French, mangostao, mangosta, or mangusta by the Portugese, manggis or manggistan by the Dutch, mang cut in Vietnam, mesetor in Malaysia, and mangis or mangostan in the Philippines. With all these different names, what exactly is mangosteen?

Mangosteen, belonging to the family Guttiferae and carrying the scientific name Garcinia mangostana, is an edible tropical fruit in deep reddish purple. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with mangoes. It is universally known because of its rich taste that may be compared to the taste of a strawberry and sweet orange. Mangosteens are oftentimes served and eaten fresh as desserts.

The fruit, contained in a seemingly tough and hard shell, measures about four to six cm in diameter with small petals underneath it. The fleshy fruit, about three to five centimeters in diameter, can be obtained by cutting through the shells which are really soft and simple to open. When opened, the red husk produces a purplish juice that can stain fabric. The number of fruit pods inside is the same as the number of petals on the bottom of the shell. On the average, a mangosteen contains five fruits (and petals, for that matter). The mangosteen fruit has seeds but they are not edible and are really bitter.

This tropical fruit is believed to have originated from the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. It was then propagated in Thailand, Southern Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines. The mangosteen was introduced in Europe in the middle of the 19th century. The Department of Agriculture in the United States received the tropical fruit’s seeds from Java in 1906. But, as the Americans started planting the seeds, the tree did not become well-acclimatized in some parts of the country. The plants did not do well in the soil and the climate.

Although it has become available preserved, frozen, and in cans, Western countries rarely sell mangosteen fresh. The fresh ones are sold only in some Asian grocery stores. Due to fears of acquiring Asian fruit glide, the United Stated prohibits the importation of whole mangosteen fruits that, they say, could devastate US crops.

Mangosteen is considered to be ?Asia’s Queen of Fruit? because of its elegance and feminine appearance. Moreover, it is more widely known and consumed in Asia than in any other parts of the world.

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