If I had to pick only one fruit to eat for the rest of my life, it would be the mangosteen. Like most tropical fruits, their taste is hard to describe because there isn’t really anything remotely similar (except some other exotic fruit, and then we go round and round). In general, they are refreshing and juicy, with a sweet flavour and somewhat flowery fragrance. If they weren’t so hard to find in Adelaide or so expensive (be prepared to pay up to $2 for one), I would have one (or more) a day to keep the cravings away.
The mangosteen is thought to have originated in Indonesia, and can be found predominately in South East Asia. It is sometimes known as the “Queen of Fruits” due to a legend that Queen Victoria had offered a reward of 100 pounds sterling for anyone that was able to deliver her the fruit. The nickname also comes from the ancient Chinese belief that it is a cooling (yin) fruit, so complements the heatiness (yang) of the “King of Fruits” – the infamous Durian.
When selecting your mangosteen (if possible), slightly squeeze it in the palm of your hand. It should give slightly, all the way around the fruit. Usually, where the fruit is rock hard to touch, the fruit inside is inedible or damaged. The fresher the mangosteen, the greener its stalk.
To eat a mangosteen, score about 2cm deep all around the outer skin which is bitter and hard. Squeeze along the cut to open the fruit and expose the milky white flesh inside. Suck out the flesh, or if you’re a bit more patient, use a small dessert fork to extract the segments before eating. Bigger is not always better with mangosteens, because the bigger segments usually have seeds.
A handy magic trick you can perform while devouring your mangosteens is to tell people you are psychic and can guess how many segments are inside. If you have a look at the base of the mangosteen (sorry, I forgot to take a picture!), you should see something that slightly resembles a flower. Count the number of ‘petals’ on the flower and that will be the number of segments inside. I’ve never found one that this doesn’t apply to. A mangosteen never lies!