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Sunday, June 10, 2007


Gorgeous isn't it? For years, according to this New York Times article, the mangosteen was banned from importation into the U.S. from Asia and Hawaii because the fruit can harbor insect pests. While they could be grown in the Caribbean, the hot, humid conditions needed to grow them make it commercially impossible. Well, Ian Crown, he of the Mangosteen.com website, has been growing them in Puerto Rico. But his crop is only small enough for delivery to specialty grocery stores. So until he or someone else makes mangosteens widely available and fresh at the local markets, I'll have to settle for buying them frozen. As it is, even finding them frozen is a big deal! Well, it is to me anyway since I can't recall ever seeing them available at all before this week. (June 10, 2008 Update: Mangosteens are now available fresh, check your local Asian grocery store to see if they have it. The going price in SoCal is around $7 a pound!) I bought a 2-lb bag of about a dozen, including many tiny-sized, mangosteens at the San Gabriel Superstore for $2.99. I bought a few bags to try them out and doled them amongst my aunts and uncles. Mangosteens have a thick outer rind that's dark purple-brown. When buying them, look for signs of any bright yellow pus, otherwise known as gamboge. The yellow pus is caused by fluctuations in rain and high humidity. While you can scrap off some of the gamboge and still eat the mangosteen, it does sometimes affect the taste of the fruit. The inside is segments of white flesh. The taste is difficult to describe, sort of a cross between a plum, loquat, and longan all rolled into one? Full of antioxidants, in the fruit and rind, mangosteens are the latest trendy fruit to add to drinks. Adam's 100% Mangosteen Juice sells a 16 oz bottle for $14.95. And the folks at Xango are marketing mangosteen juice with its purported health benefits as aggressively as pomegranate juice was marketed just a few years ago. I don't know how much I buy into all that, but I do know in Vietnam, mangosteen rinds have long been dried and then boiled into a tea for stomach ailments. Mangosteens were one of the first fruits I tried when I went back to Vietnam for the first time in 1994, so they hold a special place in my heart for mainly nostalgic reasons. That and because they're so darned difficult to find in the U.S. I was so excited when I first saw them that I immediately called up the friend I just ate lunch with and asked if he wanted some too. He said he had no idea what they were and wouldn't know how to eat them anyway. I said his mama would know. And sure enough, his mama said she loved them and asked where I bought it. As far as frozen fruits go, these mangosteens are pretty darn tasty. The other night after dinner, for dessert, my friend opted to go back to my place where we finished off the handful of mangosteens I had left, along with some fresh lychees. The next day I called my mom to ask if they were available in Oregon. She said they were. But when I told her how much (or rather how little) I spent on them, she told me to go back and buy more. So I did. So there you go, two mamas who are wild about mangosteens and actually think this is a good deal. Check your local Asian grocery stores, or if you live near the San Gabriel Superstore, hurry and grab some before they're gone! And while you're there, you can get freshly steamed shrimp cheong fun noodles at Yum Cha Cafe. San Gabriel Superstore 1635 San Gabriel Blvd. San Gabriel, CA 91776 626-280-9998


  1. This is supposed to be the Queen of Fruits. Durian being the King.
    Do you like the KING ? *curious*
    Don't have to get frozen ones if we were in SE Asia. Been a long time since I have them, and hey...I think in my family, my mum goes wild abt these too. ;)

  2. Haven't had one in ages - and have never seen them frozen! Nice to know the flavor is retained.

  3. I had mangosteen when I went to SE China a few years ago. I loved them so much, they're one of my favorite fruits! I'll have to keep an eye out for them. I tried some freeze dried mangosteen from TJs. It was interesting... :P

  4. I just found your blog. Wonderful to find another Vietnamese-inspired blog. :)

    I love mangosteen. But it is so expensive here in Australia.

  5. I love mangosteens but I haven't seen any here :-( You have to watch out for the juice though - it stains!

  6. Tigerfish,
    What if someone crossbred a durian with a mangosteen? Imagine that! I like durian ice cream and candy, not so much the real thing. The smell is just too overpowering. And I don't like the buttery consistency. Man, once in VN, we drove past a durian farm that had miles of durian trees. My parents were in heaven but we kids had to hold our noses.

    I was surprised myself. When I dropped them off, my uncle said one of my aunts said frozen wasn't good. But I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe I just had a good batch.

    Freeze dried? I've tried the freeze dried jackfruit and didn't care for it at all.

    Welcome! Hmm. I would figure tropical fruits would be cheaper in Oz b/c of the proximity and all...

    I know! Even the plate I had them on had to be scrubbed and scrubbed.

  7. im afraid to eat it now. should i bring gloves? hah

    i might come over today since its my moms birthday.


  8. WC,
    It almost had the consistency/texture of a lucky charm marshmallow. Crunchy and really airy. But when it hit your tongue it kinda... softened. It was sweet but nothing terribly exciting. :P Durian frightens me, maybe one day I'll try it. :D

  9. oh my gosh! i dream of mangosteen!

  10. Wow, you must have gotten bags of good ones. I've never had fresh mangosteens before so I bought a bag of frozen ones last year. They were a sickly gray color and I could not bear the taste. Tasted spoiled. Glad you got a good bunch. May have to try the frozen ones again and give them another shot since finding fresh ones here are pretty rare.

  11. oh my godddd, I have not seen the fresh ones in a while & these looked really2 good ! Hymph..I got disappointed w/the frozen ones b4 and never dared to get them again :( Will have to get my butt to SGSP soon, thx :)

  12. t,
    See? It wasn't scary.

    Hmm, I think I'll avoid any freeze-dried fruits. ;) Start out with durian ice cream. It's yummy and the smell isn't as bad.

    Haha! Don't we all?

    Purely by chance. My uncle said others he had tried were bad.

    I thought they were pretty good as far as frozen ones go. Just remember to avoid any yellow pus!

  13. my thuan supermarket in OC is selling fresh mangosteen at $7/lb. pricey but very worth it though! :)

  14. Thinking Hurts,
    Thanks for the tip. But $7/lb? Ouch! Too expensive for me. :(

  15. Here in the midwest I was astonished to see them this week. And the price was astonishing too--$9 a pound! I bought just two mangosteens, with very tough skins, knowing I was taking a $4 gamble. I lost. They were both spoiled, despite having been irradiated.


    Tale of a disappointed former U.S expat now in Lincoln...

  16. Brad and Julia,
    Oh man. I hate when that happens. The fresh ones are available now but at $7 a pound, are still too pricey for me. Frozen ones aren't bad and are so much more affordable. They'll have to do until I can go to Vietnam again and pig out to my heart's content.

  17. We have them in New York but they are not very fresh and they are expensive. Best options for getting the mangosteen benefits on this side of the world is in its freeze dried form.

  18. Natural Home Cures,
    Even though I can find them fresh now, they're still pretty pricey!


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