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How To Eat a Mangosteen

‘You’ll know what my riddle means
When you’ve eaten mangosteens.’
The Crab That Played with the Sea, by Rudyard Kipling

When I travelled through Thailand, I got rightly hooked on the delicious mangosteen, traditionally dubbed the “Queen of Fruit” by the Thais. I’ve been keeping an eye out ever since, through our travels to the US and back, without any luck. (In particular, they’ve been blocked by US customs for a long time, although reportedly this is changing nowadays.)

Finally, last year, they appeared in our local Tesco supermarket here in Ireland — or at least, an empty box appeared, sans fruit! That was it, though, until a couple of weeks ago, when my friend Bob was lucky enough to come across a few, and grabbed 4 for me. (Thanks Bob!)

It appears they’re in season around the start of June, which is when they make it to Tesco’s. Naturally, they’re much more expensive here — Tesco were selling them for about EUR 1.20 each, whereas a bag of 30 were about 50 cents when we used to buy them at the street-side in Ko Chang. But that’s to be expected, really.

Since they’re tricky enough to get hold of, I thought I should document exactly what to do with them once you get ’em ;)

They start off looking like this, roughly tomato-sized fruit with a thick, papery rind:


Get your thumbnail into the rind, not too deep though!, and tear it off like so:


Look at the rind’s great colour! Watch out for it, though, as it stains clothing easily. Discard the rind, and pluck out the fleshy, juicy white segments:


(Pay no attention to their resemblance to testicles. ;)

Finally you’ll wind up with 6 or so seedless segments, and 1 or 2 seed-bearing segments, larger than the others, containing a large inedible seed along with a fair bit of flesh:


Eat ’em and enjoy the flavour — it’s a bit like a tart, vanilla-y peach, but juicier, creamier and much smoother in texture. Mmmm, truly delicious. I’m looking forward to picking up some more soon!

I considered planting the seeds, but unfortunately, you can forget about growing a tree in your back yard; the mangosteen tree requires a tropical climate:

‘The mangosteen is ultra-tropical. It cannot tolerate temperatures below 40º F (4.44º C), nor above 100º F (37.78º C). Nursery seedlings are killed at 45º F (7.22º C).’

Ah well. Seems I’ll be at Tesco’s mercy for more.