The mangosteen tree (Garcinia mangostana) is native to Southeast Asia and produces one of the best fruits in the world: the mangosteen.
This fruit is considered the queen of fruits in Asia, the king being the durian.
Thai name : mang kout
The tree (tone) : tone mang kout
The fruit (louk): louk mang kout (or just mang kout)
There are many unknown fruits in Thai markets, but if there is one you must try, this is it.
Description of the Mangosteen Tree
It grows in tropical areas with abundant rainfall, and in Thailand it is mainly produced in Chantaburi province, but there are also fruits in the neighbouring provinces of Sa Kaew, Trat, Rayong and Chonburi.
The mangosteen tree is a very slow growing tree that can reach a height of 15 m.
The inner bark contains a large amount of yellow, gummy latex.
Its leaves are evergreen, opposite, oblong, leathery, dark green and shiny on top, and dull on the underside.
They can be up to 25 cm long and have pale green veins.
The flowers of the mangosteen tree are yellow-green and red in colour and are about 5 cm wide.
The mangosteen tree starts to bear fruit between its 7th and 10th year.
Facts about Mangosteen (mang kout)
The mang kout are round, purplish in shape, about the size of a mandarin orange, with a thick (very bitter) skin, called the pericarp, enclosing white flesh divided into 5 to 6 quarters.
Normally only the white quarters are eaten (see final photo in gallery below), but since researchers found more than 40 xanthones (very powerful antioxidants) in the pericarp of the fruit, many companies have started to offer a vitamin-rich juice containing all parts.
Mangosteen prices in Thailand
The price is usually between 40 and 50 baht per kilo, the price used to be high at the beginning of the season and went down at the end, but the producers have found a way to preserve the fruit which is now found on the country's markets throughout the year.
How to choose mangosteens in a Thai market?
When you buy mangosteens in a market, squeeze them lightly, the skin should be a little soft, if the fruit is hard, it is inedible, too ripe.
If you let the seller choose, they may put one or two inedible hard fruits in the bag, so you might as well do it yourself.
How to open a mangosteen?
To open the fruit, you can :
- Use a knife and slide the blade around the base, pressed in at 5 minutes to cut the pericarp (skin) and then open it in half.
- Or just stick your fingers 5 minutes around the base and split it open.
Queen Victoria of England is said to have made the mangosteen her favourite fruit, even offering a knighthood to anyone who could ensure a regular supply.
Medicinal properties of the mangosteen tree
Several parts of the mangosteen tree are used for medicinal purposes in traditional Asian pharmacopoeias (China, Thailand, India, etc.).
The skin of the fruit, the leaves of the tree and the heart of the wood are, for example, used to relieve abdominal pain, treat diarrhoea, infections, inflammation, allergies, depression and skin disorders.
Herbalists in these countries also use it to prevent cardiovascular disorders and cancer.
I was able to test the medicinal properties of Mangosteens in Madagascar, I had caught a terrible tourista with strong stomach pains and the infusion of pieces of dried skins put me back on my feet very quickly.
Unfortunately, I do not recommend eating the skin of mangosteens bought in a Thai market, as the fruit undergoes many chemical treatments here.
Photos: the birth of a mangosteen
Source: wikipedia.org ; Photos: Pierreto
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