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Queen Mangosteen


Queen Mangosteen

Inspire is delighted to have teamed up with Expat Life magazine to bring you more great content to do with Thailand

Regulars to S.E. Asia always look forward to treating themselves to the wondrous mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) fruit, as to the lucky Expats that live in Thailand, well, we know the wonders!

It is a rare fruit indeed to find in your local grocery store back home if one comes from the western world. The first time I heard of it I thought it must be a fruit similar to one of my favourites, mango. The name is deceiving for this fruit is quite unique in all aspects. It has the look of a very small purple pomegranate, the insides are like a white tangerine with segments and the flavour, to my mouth, is like litchi and/or rambutan! While investigating this fruit to write this article, I learned why it is such a rare fruit locally set to the tropics and why it is sometimes so expensive back “home”.

It is like a very elitist high maintenance person to say the least! With the combination of needing certain sun, moisture, soil and perfect time to ripen, it is also not an easily accommodated nor an easily transported fruit outside of its natural growing areas. It takes 10 days for a fruit to completely ripen to perfection (from green to red to purple), then after it is picked can begin to spoil within a few days if no refrigeration with no outside sign of spoilage. The rind does harden a bit more after picking with the insides reaching the exact perfection possible but it can be downhill from there, so eating within a few days of being picked is really the only reliable way to have this amazing fruit at its best!

The mangosteen, or mangkhut, has been cultivated in Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines since the 15th century with its delicate flavour widespread and known. The deep purple hard thick skin seems a bit daunting at first if one doesn’t know how to open it but with the score of a knife around the top half and thumbs pressing in afterwards, the top of the fruit can be lifted off quite easily. Trees can take up to 10 years to even begin to produce fruit. A grown tree in full maturity at 35 – 40 years can produce up to 3,000 fruits with trees growing as old as 100 years! Thailand is the country with the most planted acreage producing about 46,000 tons a year.

The whole growth process of the mangosteen is a very delicate matter which is why production hasn’t been successful in other tropical places on the planet like Florida, California, South America, Hawaii, Caribbean Islands or any other continent other than Asia. Porto Rica has one grower/farm that has been steadfast in their production of saleable mangosteen since 2005 (Panoramic Fruit Company, full story extremely interesting) but these fruits are only sold to select expensive health food stores in the States. Once the fruit has ripened on the tree and is picked, it doesn’t ripen any more.Monkeys It is rather difficult to know when the fruit is ripe on the tree also so picking the fruit is a high skill! In S.E. Asia the mangosteens grow by the thousands and the local farmers know their crops! Lots of shade is needed as young trees grow, high humidity (80%) and sunshine/heat too (25 – 35 C.). Durian and banana trees can provide shade also so the intercropping technique is a must. I don’t usually study the growing habits of plants as much as I have with the recent enlightenment of mangosteen growth for this article but the realization how we are so gifted in Asia with this rarity of fruit and fullness of flavour for our taste buds kept me reading. In Thailand, the growing season is May through August. One must try to find the fruits at the market with the green stem on it showing it has recently been picked, is deep purple and just a fair bit soft still, not quite the rock hard rind yet. Then you’ll be good to go knowing that you’ve got some mangosteen for the next 3-5 days in its prime.


Source: Expat Life Thailand

Inspire is delighted to have teamed up with Expat Life magazine to bring you more great content to do with Thailand

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