What Is Mangosteen?
How To Grow Mangosteen Fruit Trees
Mangosteen fruit trees are popularly known as the “fruit of paradise”. They have been cultivated in tropical regions since ancient times. However, they were not widely used until the 20th century when their high sugar content made them desirable as sweeteners and health food supplements. Today, mangosteens are grown all over the world and there are many different types of mangos available.
The fruit of mangosteen tree is actually a type of rambutan (Raphus cucullatus). Rambutans are small, hardy monkeys native to Southeast Asia. They resemble raccoons but are much smaller with rounder faces and longer ears. Their fur ranges from light brown to grayish white and they have two short tails instead of one.
In addition to their edible fruits, mangosteens also produce seeds. These seeds are similar in appearance to black walnuts or hazel nuts. They contain a very small amount of fat and protein, but are rich in vitamins A, C and E.
How Long Does It Take To Grow A Mangosteen Tree?
It takes about four years for a mature mangosteen tree to reach its full size. If you purchase a seedling it will take about 3 to 4 years before you can begin to harvest any mangosteens.
The tree will grow about 20 to 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide. It is oval in shape with branches that sweep toward the ground. The leaves are dark green, glossy and about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide.
Mangosteen trees prefer warm, frost-free weather. They thrive in sandy and well-drained soil but they do not tolerate salty soil or drought conditions. It is important to keep the area around the tree free of weeds to promote good air flow. The mangosteen grows best in U.S.
Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11.
Mangosteens can be grown outdoors in containers. You will need a wide, shallow container that holds about 3 gallons of potting soil. Choose a spot in full sun and prepare the soil before you plant your mangosteen.
The mangosteen fruit is very delicate. It cannot withstand any type of frost or temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). The tree itself is fairly hardy and can withstand temperatures as low as 23 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 degrees Celsius).
How Often Do You Get Mangosteens?
A mature mangosteen tree can produce between 100 and 200 pounds of mangosteens each year. It is important to keep in mind that most of the weight will be in the hulls so you are only likely to get about 20 to 40 pounds of edible portion, depending on the size of the fruit.
The mangosteen fruit has a thin, purple colored skin that encloses the white fleshy edible section. The fruit contains small, black, edible seeds.
How Do You Recognize A Good Mangosteen?
Mangosteens are available in the marketplace from May through July. Look for mangosteens that are slightly soft to the touch and have a good purple color without any green areas. The skin should be thin, almost translucent, and free of any dark spots or wrinkles.
A good quality mangosteen will have a natural citrusy aroma. A sweet, nutty smell may indicate that the fruit is overripe and the taste will reflect that. If you are unable to sample a mangosteen before you purchase it, be sure to buy from a grower that has a good reputation for selling top quality produce.
How Do You Store And Eat A Mangosteen?
Mangosteens do not ripen any further once they are picked. It is best to refrigerate them as soon as you get them home. The fruit does not tolerate warm, humid storage conditions. In fact, a mangosteen can only remain at room temperature for two days before its quality starts to deteriorate.
To enjoy the delicious mangosteen, gently wash the outside of the fruit with soap and water. Cut the mangosteen in half from stem to end and use a spoon to scoop out the edible portions. Discard the skin, rind, and any darkened flesh or seeds.
What Does Mangosteen Taste Like?
Mangosteens taste sweet but they also have a tart flavor that is like a combination of apple, citrus, and pineapple. The white flesh has a creamy texture that some compare to the consistency of marshmallow creme.
You can use mangosteen in just about any recipe that calls for canned pineapple. Try making a smoothie, or combine it with fresh fruit and yogurt for a quick, healthy snack. You can also try these recipes:
1 cup of plain yogurt
1 mangosteen, peeled and seeded (reserve the juice)
1 tablespoon honey
Combine the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Serve immediately.
3 mangosteens, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Place all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Strain the mixture into a pitcher and chill before serving.
There are many other ways to enjoy the mangosteen. You can add it to fruit salad, make a salsa with it, or try one of the numerous baked goods that call for canned pineapple.
Sources & references used in this article:
Growing the mangosteen in Southern Florida by CW Campbell – Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural …, 1966 – journals.flvc.org
Studies in Garcinia, dioecious tropical forest trees: the origin of the mangosteen (G. mangostana L.) by AJ Richards – Botanical journal of the Linnean Society, 1990 – academic.oup.com
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L.)-a potential crop for tropical northern Australia by J Wieble, EK Chacko, WJS Downton – Frontier in Tropical Fruit …, 1991 – actahort.org
Characterization of acyl‐ACP thioesterases of mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) seed and high levels of stearate production in transgenic canola by DJ Hawkins, JC Kridl – The plant journal, 1998 – Wiley Online Library
Highly successful wedge grafting for rambutan, lychee, longan, mangosteen and other fruit trees by PC Tabora, L Atienza – … of the Florida State Horticultural Society, 2006 – journals.flvc.org