Description: A dark purple tropical fruit the size of a tangerine, the mangosteen (which has no relation to a mango other than also being a fruit) grows in the hot, humid climates of Southeast Asia. About two to three inches in diameter—the size of a small apple—the mangosteen has a hard, leathery maroon rind that can be close to one-inch thick. Inside is soft, opaque white fruit that resembles a head of garlic. Mangosteens are high in antioxidants and have unique molecules called xanthones that purportedly have anti-inflammatory benefits. Once illegal in the US due to the belief that they harbored the Asian fruit fly, mangosteens are no longer contraband (the ban was lifted in October of 2007).
Flavor Profile: The five-section snow-white interior tastes slightly sweet and tart.
Where To Buy: They’re available fresh during summer months at Asian supermarkets. (Choose fruits that have firm outer rind.) They also can be found freeze-dried at some Trader Joe’s and fresh via Amazon.
How to Open: Wash the fruit in water to remove surface dust. Score the outer rind with a serrated knife along the “equator,” taking care not to slice through to the pulp. Twist off one rind section, and pull out the small white segments. Be careful not to get juice from the purple rind on your clothes: It will stain!