name that fruit!: the mighty mangosteen


quite possibly my favourite fruit, ever: mangosteen, garcinia mangostana, from the family guttiferae. its origins have been traced to the malaccas and malaya, and is found throughout southeast asia, but very rarely outside of it. it has been planted with some success in the southern reaches of india, and in the west indies and central america, but attempts to cultivate it in the other americas, africa, and europe have been less than successful. so this, my dear tsogb readers in north america and europe, could possibly be the best fruit you'll never eat.

it is a notoriously picky tree, difficult to grow, temperamental, and the fruit does not travel well. a diva, if you will. however, the mangosteen is a jewel, indeed--a smooth, round ball of deep purple-red to purple black, capped by a citrine calyx and a chartreuse stem. the outer "husk" is smooth and hard, but when ripe, a little light pressure will force it open. if the fruit is unripe or overripe, it is it nearly impossible to open the fruit--it becomes as hard as a rock, and even a good sawing or hard swing of a baseball bat has known to be futile. once inside, though, it reveals the creamy, opaque ivory white segments within, surrounded by a reddish-purpley rind that oozes an acidic yellow latex and a juice that will stain anything it touches horrendously. there are anywhere from four to eight segments in each fruit, the largest one(s) containing a seed, which is only viable for planting within 48 hours of uncovering it.

inside mangosteen

so what does this elusive fruit taste like? i find that the flavour is reminiscent of every fruit you've ever eaten--a little like peach, strawberry, banana, mango, pineapple, pear, lychee, etcetera--and yet completely indescribable. heat and time destroy the flavour so it's impossible to taste a true mangosteen flavour from canned, dried, or bottled fruit or juice. it is sweet, tempered by a touch of sourness, it is bold, yet completely delicate. is it worth the trouble of planting, obtaining, opening, the acidic latex, and the staining juice? sweet sarah jessica parker! why yes, yes, a thousand times yes! it is.

as it is completely banned from import into the united states and next to impossible to import anywhere else, i suggest anyone interested in trying this lovely gem to take a holiday anywhere mangosteen can be found, from now until september, whilst they are in season. and if you are lucky enough to find the limited edition häagen-dazs mangosteen sorbet, then good goddess, you better contact me, pronto!

fun fact: the number of points on the little flowery star on the bottom of the fruit will tell you how many segments are inside

further reading: market manila's excellent post on this delicious fruit.


That was an excellent write-up and tribute to the mangosteen, santos! :)

Why exactly is this banned in the U.S.? They have it in Canada--I bought one last week in Toronto, and liked it well enough (the specimen I had was a little bruised, so I only had like half of it), but didn't know I'd gotten ahold of something I can't find here in the States.

Santos...your photos are simply breathtaking!

*yummmm* One of my favourite fruit as well but it's just way too expensive for my wallet to afford >.< Lovely photos, btw :)

F$%&##& hell Santos just f#&$&%$& brilliant all round. I just took this pic of an unusually shaped lemon and it's now been hidden away in shame.

My husband and I tried one while we're in Hong Kong back in December. We know it's not in season, but since we don't have them here in US, we thought we'll give it a try anyways. Alas, it doesn't have much flavor at all. I guess we'll have to try again another time. (My jeans still have that yellow stain on it!)

Oh yes! And we now have mangosteen jam from the flesh that might otherwise go to waste. Ooohhh la la!

Wonderful post Ate! Love the picture.

hi julia! the fruit speaks for itself. well, not literally, because that would be creepy :-)

hey swilkes! pests. the usda and customs are concerned with agricultural pests that the fruit may harbour but i'm not sure exactly what those might be.

hi moira! it's the fruit, it's so damn purdy.

hi pinkcocoa--how much are they in sydney? isn't there a fairly decent crop from queensland? even in the philippines they can be very pricey, though, i think because they have such a short shelf life.

anthony--fruit bowly hyperbole, 't's'all.

winnie--you should definitely try a fresh one, icy cold. you may not believe the hype, but it is a really flavourful fruit.

hey karen--ooh. mangosteen jam! how does it taste compared to the fresh fruit? personally, i think that häagen-dazs needs to horde all the unused fruit to made mangosteen sorbet all the time!

hi, santos.
I like also cool mangosteen. Normally, in our country, this fruit is not well introduced. because it's planed in subtropical zones. Of course we can taste in sushi restaurant as dessert, but it's not cheap like those subtropical countries.

Hi Santos!
I'm a 100% with you on the mangosteen - we had it once and for the first time on a vacation. Like you suggested in an earlier comment, it was very chilled and super delicious. Yumm. Unfortunately the ones we can buy here in Germany don't live up...

How does it taste compared to the fresh fruit? A very difficult question to answer, hehe! Similar yet different. But the jam's really sublime, that I can tell. I think it's the Good Shepherd Sisters who make it (not sure). Ask Auntie F. to send you a bottle or two next time your mom comes home.

hi chocopie--mangosteen are expensive even in tropical places, at least compared to some other fruit. but i will pay the price as i love them so much.

hi oliver--i need to meet you and nicky somewhere in malaysia soon. like, in the next 12 hours or so. i'll meet you at the airport with a bag of mangosteens, okay? ;-)

hi karen! i will definitely ask auntie f. to send some my way :-) and atchara. i am craving really good atchara....

My favorite fruit of them all, the mangosteen!

Quite expensive here in Holland, and also difficult to find. But luckily some local groceries, though seasonal, sell them. We get the thai mangosteens and they're simply sweet, juicy and lovely meat.

I can almost taste those white meat, lovely photos :)

Oh yum! Mangosteens remind me of my Malaysian childhood! Every time I go back to visit my parents, I always hope that it's mangosteen season so that I can gorge myself on them! :)

hi thess! you are lucky you can get the ones from thailand there--even *i* can't get them.

hi glovefox--thanks for stopping by! ah, to gorge on mangosteen, such bliss :-)

Hi Santos

Mangosteens are $19 kg and up in Sydney..... but they are sooooooo goood :)

If I see them I always buy 1 and savour every bite!

whoa... something that we malaysians take for granted haha even though it's seasonal. we always eat them after durian sessions to counter act the "heat" from eating durian hahaha

i've tasted fabulous mangosteen salad in a southern vietnamese restaurant in kl. maybe i could make some one day when the season arrives.

Just came from Cathy's My Little Kitchen. She mentioned that today is your blog 1st anniversary.

Congrats to you Santos and very Happy Burpday to The Scent of Green Bananas!!!

hi clare--$19/kg! actually, i saw an importer's price list for them and he was asking $3 for one fruit--omg! still, savouring one good one is worth it.

hi babe! i hope you make that salad, i'm intrigued to see what it's like....and thanks for the greetings :-)!

I do love mangosteens and the guessing game whether the pulp has any seed or not. I often swallow them accidentally with seeds. Very nice taste, perfectly defined by you Santos. And what sets of photos, simply gorgeous!
And a very Happy one year mark...

hi lisa--ah, me too with the seeds. thanks!

I hate to overwhelm you by adding to an already very full comment list, but I wanted to say that I thought your post was great. Ive never even heard of a mangosteen before now! It will have to remain for now one of those things I can only dream of trying one day. Your pictures are great too. Look forward to catching up on all that I've missed on your blog!

hi michele! thanks for stopping by; i think you may be fortunate enough to live somewhere that mangosteen are available, but it's always nice to dream of a tropical holiday you could take so you can sample the fruit in its natural surroundings :-)

MANGOSTEENS! It's been AGES since I've had any! Yours was a lovely article on them and I think I'll rush to the nearest supermarket-with-an-extensive-fresh-fruit-section and start buying crateloads. (BTW, Magnolia Ice Cream's Gold Label line once had a coffee-mangosteen variant. Too yummy, yes, but fresh mangosteens are the nicest! =^_^=

wait, wha? huh? coffee-mangosteen ice cream?! i can't even imagine that, it's too crazy.

Now i feel stupid. I've never ever seen or heard about that lovely mangosteen!!! But I will try to find one here in Sweden, somewhere I should be able to find one especially if it's sold in Holland, Germany and Norway. The photos are great and together with your description they made me feel a huge urge to try it....

hi dagmar--don't feel stupid, it's not a common thing at all. so if you actually find a good, ripe one (and you like it) just consider yourself "enlightened" :-)

wow, mangosteen hardly made an impression on me when i lived in the philippines, but now i miss it. so easy to take things for granted. i've learned to appreciate our food more after we moved here. mangosteen is one of hubby's favorite fruits, but now we have to settle for canned:(. awesome pics!

hi stefoodie! isn't that always the case? :-( i really appreciate the variety of tropical fruit that we can get here and in the philippines more than ever.

Hi Santos,

I don't believe there were any mangosteens around when I was in Singapore...but then again, I didn't look. Is this the one that's called the "Queen of Fruits" much like how durian is supposed to be the "King"?

In any case, I'm going to try to see if I can find some in Chinatown. I have a feeling that they are now growing these on the Big Island, but I could be mistaken.

Anyway...CONGRATULATIONS!...on TSOGB's first birthday. I think you were probably one the first bloggers to comment regularly on my site all that time ago. Keep up the witty writing and the great photos! Here's to another year of fun! =)

BTW...I couldn't send your postcard out from SF...there were lots of complications with the trip, one of which included delayed receipt of my luggage. *sigh*

Yum. I first tried mangosteen in Vietnam. Dee-licious.

Have yet to sample it in Sydney. As Clare says, they're fairly pricey and I'm sure they won't taste as good as imports. =(

Great pics though. And I love the fun fact too!

X-rated exotic fruit. Santos, you should be ashamed for posting this stuff. ;-D

hi ag! aren't the ones in sydney grown in queensland? i wonder what the quality is like. obvs the growing conditions aren't the same, so i wonder if the fruit is different somehow.

jonny! tsk. it's not x-rated 't'all. just because when you lick the icy cool, firm flesh it feels slick and wet underneath your tongue, and it's best to slowly but determinedly suck, suck, suck the nubby bits whole in your mouth, drawing out the heady, sweet, sticky juice that dribbles down your throat like....

wha, wait, huh. where was i? nevermind.

whoops, missed you reid! yar, this is the queen o' fruit (no sniggering from you, jon).

i do believe you're right, they are grown on the big island. i know that they were hoping it could be a viable export crop, but it didn't pan out. however, the fruit does grow there.

That is one sexy fruit!

First of all, beautiful pictures.

Second, thank you for romancing the mangosteen! That's one of the most underrated fruits. Now I'm craving for one!

from oslo foodie to here
i had my great moments eating this in indonesia not in Phils...

cant wait to go to Phils soon and eat these yummy fruits.

I was recently introduced to this fruit. I had no idea what it was called in English.

I was in Japan, Hong Kong and China in January-February and I had my first mangosteen in Japan at a traditional Japanese meal. I had no idea what it was. One mangosteen was set on a pretty plate with a ivory 2pronged fork and had already been cut, so I lifted the top was surprised to find the fruit. It was a little on the tart side, but I thought it was refreshing, but my husband didn't like the texture at all, so I ate his, too. Then a week later, I was in China and my mom bought a big bagful and said that she loved eating them as a child. They were delicious! And they were so fragrant and juicy sweet. 2 countries, same fruit, but different tastes.

lovelee lovelee all the goodies posted by u always looks good! double yum =]

We have a lot of fruits here in Palm Springs, too. :-D

(You were just waiting for my comment follow-up, weren't you Santos?)

hello anon, toni, oiyi, sha, lala (wow that could be a song)--it's time to submit to the craving :-)

ah kimchi jon, what exotic fruits they are too....

I love mangosteens!!!

Gah! I grew up in the Philippines but don't remember EVER having mangosteens. Oh the horror! The shame! The deprivation! It looks like a purple santol, though. Is it the same undescribably delicious flavor? My mouth is watering even as I type.

Please talk about lanzones next, if that is available in Guam. This blog is my food porn.

santos food blog is too sexy LOL and seeds i cant remember the seeds but there is a soft pod
we eat them all!

"the number of points on the little flowery star on the bottom of the fruit will tell you how many segments are inside"

Thanks for this very informative fact. I never knew that even though I'm grown up eating bucket by bucket of mangosteen.

I'm from Philippines, Davao City in particular. I have known that this fruit was used as herbal medicine but until know i was amazed about the revelation from some American people who have been drinking the juice of the said fruit. They claimed that the said juice cleared themselves from diseases like cancer,diabetes and more diseases... Is there a way that somebody will post on how to make the said juice.... In that way you can help or we can help many people from suffering of the said diseases.. and most of all i really wanna help the poor people of the Philippines...

I'm hoping that somebody will respond to my letter... Have mercy on us...


hi joooooooooooone, lorelei, schatzli! sexy sexy fruit, yes? i will blog about lanzones the next time i see them. probably have to go to manila for that, though.

hi fishfish! 'tis a fun fact indeed! not that it matters how many are in there--i'll eat them all!

alvin--the claims that mangosteen juice is a cure all for many diseases are unfounded, no one has scientifically proved anything about the juice at all--not even about how much nutritional value is actually in it, as i imagine pasteurization and heat probably alters its value significantly. it is marketed as an herbal and nutritional supplement, and will probably help in that it is a source of vitamins to take along with a healthy diet. it is not marketed as a drug that will cure a disease, nor should it be. mangosteen juice, or any juice for that matter, will not be the miracle drug you are hoping for.

Your photos are excellent. I grew up on Guam and miss all the tropical fruits, esp. ates=sweet sap-sop. When I try to explain them to my husband (a Roman) he just shrugs. Hopefully we will be able to get ourselves back home this Christmas so he can meet my parents before our first wedding anniversary.

hello gia-gina! i had some beautiful ates i was looking forward to photographing this morning but someone ATE them! *sigh*. they are getting more difficult to find, but hopefully i'll get a photo of them up soon. congratulations on your impending anniversary, and i hope you get home to the island soon.

Thanks Santos, I miss Hawaiian Punch and the original fried apple pie at Micky D's not the healthy baked ones like in the states. Also I would love to get some Shirley's Spam Fried Rice, hmmmm I maybe more homesick than I thought. I keep looking for the ates photos.

hi Santos... thank you so much for your wonderful post. Mangosteens are just 1.5US/kg in Hong Kong.
I love your blog. I stop by almost every day.

hi gia-gina! do you want me to send you a can of the hot and spicy spam made especially for guam? it has shirley's fried rice recipe on the back!

hi olivia! thanks for stopping by. you are so lucky to have mangosteens readily available. they are difficult to come by here so i savour every one that i can get :-)

I live in Canada and was trying to find this fruit for a while. Just recently I found it an organic grocery store and was surprised when I saw it, I was so happy. When I got home I cut it open tasted it immediately but the taste was not right- i think it was a bad one I have 2 others in the fride at home so I'll hope to experience what you all are talking about. I paid $8 for 3.

I just tried this fruit for the first time last week. I was writing about it as a highlight of the week on my blog and came across your marvellous entry and pictures! How wonderful! I'll be sure to explore your blog some more.

I buy it in Garden Grove, So, California at the vietnamese market. It is canned instead of fresh, but it good just the same. Chill it in the fridge, it's best cold.

The Mangosteen fruit has helped me to fully regain my health! This fruit contains tremendous amounts of "Xanthones", natural chemical compounds that amongst other things are "super-antioxidants" and phytonutrients.

The medical use of Xanthones has been scientifically proven by tons of independent research. I read about it and I soon found a pure Mangosteen Juice that I started to drink every day - all of my muscle inflammations went away in 2 weeks, my back is not sore anymore and now I feel great for the first time in over one year! I highly recommend it to all people with health concerns!

To your health,

A wonderful fruit! There is even a Boutique Resort names after the Mangosteen. It is in Phuket, Thailand and believe it or not, these guys have Mangosteen trees in the garden and serve the Mangosteen on the fruit basket, at breakfast and they even have Mangosteen ice cream. The Mangosteen Boutique Resort is a beautiful little gem on a hill in Phuket, just 40 jacuzzi villas are waiting and you will be spoiled with a Mangosteen scrub at the spa. Very highly recommended place, not only for Mangosteen fans. Anyone who likes a Boutique Resort experience should try this 5-star place!

By the way, the fruit is yummy!

what a nice blog you have. nice write ups, nice photos. and mangosteen!

it is my favorite fruit in the whole wide world! i am so lucky to be living in a part of the world where at its peak, a bundle of over a kilo of this glorious fruit can go as low as Ps 15! the price becomes that when you buy it from the "karitons" in the wet market between 7 PM to 11 PM at night when the vendors want to sell everything so that they do not have to cart home anything anymore. that or they fear the fruits will be overripe by the next day. i am just waiting for those prices to come around so i can make marketman's mangosteen jam.

mangosteens are banned in the US because they harbor the Asian Fruit Fly. They're currently grown in Hawaii, but only for local consumption.

When I was vacationing in Hong Kong, the Eaton Hotel had a huge bowl of 'steens every other morning as part of the breakfast buffet. My husband couldn't understand why I ate nothing but mangosteens (and tea and toast) forgoing all the other breakfast goodies.

bg, you are a smart woman. mangosteens and tea are a feast unto themselves!

My father was in the military and we were stationed in the Philippines 3 times. We lived on Clark AFB where there were many tropical fruit trees. When I was growing up we walked around and picked fruit to eat while we were walking. We ate mangos, guavas, and santos. We also ate berries from a large tree that I don't know what they were called. They were small and I think green with tiny seeds and juicy inside. We would get a hand full of them and eat. I am so glad you have pictures of the santos (as we called them)so I can show my husband what they looked like and what I have been talking about for 30 years. Thanks! Judy

Now in England - sold in Tesco! For only 59p. I tried it because I had never seen one before and I have to say - I totally agree with the praise it has been given!

hey! can anyonee one help me cuz i need to kno what the mangosteen smells like