Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Purple Mangosteen

Another day, another idiosyncratic tropical fruit to try.

This time around, I picked up a few purple mangosteens (Garcinia mangostana) from the local outdoor market.  The small, fibrous, golf ball-sized purple spheres are rigid and appear to be chronically unripe. 

But, don't let a thick skin deter you - use those digits wisely and apply pressure with your thumbs, cracking through the thick rind and the crimson membrane until you hit fragrant white bulbs.  This translucent, milky flesh is actually the inner layer of their ovaries and makes for a subtly sweet, tangy bite. 

Appearing eerily similar to a clove of garlic, the edible portion of the mangosteen is a true treasure.  After your tireless labor, separate the cloves, and place them in a dish to be delicately savored. 

Mangosteen has been used traditionally in Southeast Asia as an anti-inflammatory and has only been available in the US since 2007, when a long-standing ban on their import (due to fears of sinister fruit flies arriving with the bounty) was lifted.

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