Harvest of the Month – Mangosteen
Researched and written by Barbara Bankhead, GSU Dietetic Intern
Are you wondering what a Mangosteen is??
Well, you are probably just hearing about it because it was banned in the US until 2007. So, now, we welcome a new and interesting fruit to our list of superfoods.
The mangosteen is an exotic fruit originating in Southeast Asia. Today, it is most often found in countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia where the fruit is provided with the rain and humidity it needs to thrive. The mangosteen has a tough, purple rind with a juicy white edible center. The segmented center has a fleshy texture, giving off a delicious mixture of sugary and tart flavors. It is often used to make desserts such as custards, pies, and ice-creams. In some Asian regions, this sweet and sour plant is known as the ‘queen of tropical fruit.’
Still today, mangosteens are limited in its areas of cultivation around the world. Germination of the seed is difficult and the trees are only fruitful in a specific climate. Luckily, we have access to this tasty and healthy fruit at markets across the US.
How is it harvested?
Mangosteens are typically available from early summer through fall. The purple fruits grow on trees, attached by a green calyx that sits on top of the fruit. Mangosteens are usually harvested by hand. Because the fruit is so tender and soft during harvest, they should be removed from the tree before falling to the ground to prevent damage. Within several days after harvest, the mangosteen will harden.
How do I eat it?
Mangosteens can be left at room temperature or put into the refrigerator if left uneaten after a week. When preparing the fruit, use a thin knife to cut just slightly into the shell and continue around its circumference. You can then carefully pull open the hard rind into two halves and see the snowy white center. The flesh can be scooped out. Just be careful, because it is slippery. Be sure to avoid eating the seeds as they have a very bitter flavor. Other than that, you are all set to enjoy a great summertime treat!
Why is it so good for me?
The mangosteen is an overall nutritious fruit, rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals to keep your body strong. Mangosteens are low in calories and abundant in fiber. The sweet fruit is a good source of vitamin C which acts as an anti-oxidant, fighting infections. Xanthone is another antioxidant found in mangosteen. Juices from the fruit are commonly used in herbal supplements to ward off free radicals and inflammation. In some modern cultures, the juices may even be used to help fight certain cancers.