The mangosteen fruit – alternatively known as the King or Queen of Fruits – is seed-bearing and multi-segmented. The number of segments varies from 5 to 7, with the largest invariably holding the seed. It is a round, tennis ball-size fruit that has a purple outer rind and a soft, milky white edible center.
Despite its name, it has nothing in common with the more popular tropical fruit mango. The fruit is not largely cultivated across the world because of the specific climactic conditions required for its growth. It grows abundantly only in countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil and India. For this reason, mangosteen is one of the most expensive fruits available.
The mangosteen fruit’s high cost also stems from the fact that it appears only sparingly on the tree. It is only partly edible and has a captivating flavor of its own. It usually appears twice a year: autumn and the early part of summer.
Rumor has it that Queen Victoria offered anyone who could bring the fruit to England a large reward. All efforts were ""fruitless"". Mangosteen has an extremely short shelf life and reacts very adversely to sudden changes in climate. Shipment –even by air, under refrigeration- has been unsuccessful in delivering it to the US in optimum natural shape. The canned variety fails to deliver the mangosteen’s full flavor and inherent properties.
However, a new electronically based ‘pasteurization’ process that is presently being developed may soon make its direct import possible.
Apart from its much hyped medicinal benefits, its flavor is probably the most outstanding factor of the mangosteen fruit. It is really quite indescribable. It has been likened to vanilla, strawberry, peach, grapes and grapefruit. Beyond doubt, the flavor can vary from crop to crop and even sometimes from fruit to fruit. In all cases, the pulp retains a slightly sour undertone.
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