Photo: Late boat at Waecicu near Labuan Bajo.

What is a mangosteen?

The mangosteen's inedible skin is deep purple and peels back to reveal half a dozen or so garlic-like segments of sweet, slightly-sour white flesh, somewhat reminiscent of pineapples and peaches. Ripe mangosteens yield to pressure and are easily peeled with your fingers, but you can also use a sharp knife to cut around the skin as you hold it in the palm of your hand - don't cut into the segments themselves.

The small, slow-growing tree of the mangosteen is native to Malaysia and Indonesia but the fruit is also widely grown in Southeast Asia - Vietnam once had the largest mangosteen orchard in the world - and where it is its best from May to September and is known as the queen of tropical fruits. In Thailand, it's mostly grown in Surathani province.

If you look at the blossom end of the mangosteen, there will be a flower-shaped marking. The number of petals on the flower - typically five, seven or nine - will tell you the number of segments inside.

Fruit in Asia FAQ

A bit of history, perhaps a taste-test and an idea on just what some of those Asian fruits really look like.

Asian fruit FAQ

What is a banana?
What is a cantaloupe?
What is a durian?
What is a guava?
What is a jackfruit?
What is a longan?
What is a papaya?
What is a pineapple?
What is a rambutan?
What is a soursop?
What is a starfruit?
What is a watermelon?

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