The Mangosteen: Queen of All Fruits
Meet the Mangosteen
What is a Mangosteen?
A mangosteen is a tropical fruit that grows in Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Although the root word, "mango" is ever present in its name, the two fruits are very different from one another. Its exocarp or rind is has some of the highest astringency found in a fruit. The fruit or fragrant edible portion of the mangosteen is called the aril which is delectably sweet and tangy, much like a peach and a pineapple combined. Here's one person's description of what a mangosteen tastes like:
”Imagine the best peach you've ever eaten, combined with a touch of passion fruit, a sliver of nectarine and a nip of lychee. Imagine a concord grape's sweet purple essence giving way to the clean leanness of a Granny Smith. Add a squeeze of lime, and a spoon of buttery brown sugar. Stir.”
The Queen Victoria Myth and the "Queen of all Fruits"
Despite popular belief, there is no proof that Queen Victoria decreed that Mangosteen be brought to her for her own consumption is a myth as there is no proof, in writing or otherwise of this having occurred. On the most comprehensive web site on Mangosteen, Mangosteen.com is actually offering $100 to the person who finds such proof of this! So far, no one has come forward to reap their reward.
In 1903, explorer David Fairchild referred to Mangosteen as, “the queen of fruit,” and so coined the term that still exists to this day. His reason for doing so was because he thought very highly of it and so wanted to imply that the fruit was regal by nature. It is also important to note that he was, all things considered, an entrepreneur and wanted to capitalize on his Mangosteen enterprise. As far as any one is concerned, the connection between Queen Victoria and Fairchild’s quote is that there isn’t any and so is apparently, according to Mangosteen.com, “internet fiction.”
However, Fairchild does mention in his 1930 book, Exploring for Plants on page 7 he refers to mangosteen for the first time as being, "the queen of tropical fruits." He then mentions on page 18 that Queen Victoria, "once offered 100 pounds to anyone who would bring her one [mangosteen]."
Fun and Interesting Facts About Mangosteen
- Is believed to have come from the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas of Indonesia and also Malaysia
- The French explorer Laurenties Garcin gave Mangosteen its name, Garncinia mangostana
- Is chock-full of anti-oxidants
- Contain 43 of the 200 or so xanthones which can only be found in nature
- Are about the size of a tangerine and weighs between 80 to 140 grams (about 3 to 5 ounces)
- Are anti-inflammatory that also fights viruses, bacteria, tumors, old age, allergies, and lethargy
- Is mentioned in the annals of Chinese medical accounts dating back as far as the Ming Dynasty (between 1369 A.D. and 1644 A.D.)
- Is Thailand’s National Fruit
- Is so highly acclaimed that many people around the world believe that it is the best tasting fruit
- It takes up to ten years of cultivation before a Mangosteen tree can bare fruit
- The mangosteen tree produces fruit twice a year
- Is the fruit of an evergreen tree
- Trees grow between 20 to 80 feet in some areas
- In addition to mangosteen being called the “Queen of all fruits,” it is also referred to as “The food of the gods”
- The exocarp or rind becomes deep reddish purple once ripe
- Mangosteen trees are “dioecius,” meaning that there are both male and female trees
- Due to the fact that they cannot be imported fresh, most Mangosteen that are brought in are frozen and are then thawed for consumption
- Are so rare in the U.S. and Canada that they are sometimes sold at $45 a pound, which comes out to be about $11 a Mangosteen!
- Currently in the U.S. some notable restaurants are serving Mangosteen in their featured desserts
- Were rumored to be a favorite of Queen Victoria (just a rumor!)
- If you turn a Mangosteen upside-down and count its “petals,” it will give you the exact number of fruit segments or “slices you will have upon opening it
Are Mangosteen Superfruit?
As of yet, a “super fruit” category has yet to be established scientifically. However, if one were to be established, it would most likely involve fruits that have an appealing taste and include the following:
- High nutrient density
- Superior antioxidant quality
- Potential health benefits
After much research, the Mangosteen aril or fruit segments by
itself do not contain enough nutrients for it to be considered a “super fruit.”
However, it is important to note that the pericarp or rind of the Mangosteen is
indeed rich with xanthones and so we could consequently extract juices from it
and combine the two to make a healthy xanthone-rich drink that would be quite
beneficial to us. More research is needed to make any conclusions in the matter. Mangosteen are high in xanthones, but its effect on the human body is still not fully known.
Many so called, "Mangosteen drinks" in the market today are really for the most part processed drinks that contain other juices that naturally have an abundance of anti-oxidants (and a minimal amount of mangosteen juice) including but not up to, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, strawberry and grape.
I've heard as of late that mangosteen can be purchased for about ten dollars a pound at a Chinatown...I've had mangosteen juice (natural) before and loved it but have yet to eat a live mangosteen (wild caught, I guess). As soon as I do, I will report back! Until then, please enjoy and comment should you taste it before I do!
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