Youâ€™ll know what my riddle means
When youâ€™ve eaten mangosteens
–Rudyard Kipling, 1902
No, mangosteens are not bearing at Ladera Frutal. The mangosteen, often called the world’s best tasting fruit, would not grow here. It is ultra-tropical. But a producer in Puerto Rico is about to begin exporting them to the USA.
Because fresh mangosteens can harbor insect pests, the Department of Agriculture prohibits their being brought from the main countries that grow them in Southeast Asia, or from Hawaii. (Mangosteens smuggled from Canada, where they are permitted because tropical pests cannot survive there, are occasionally sold in Chinatown.)
But contrary to its reputation as a forbidden fruit, the mangosteen can be imported legally from 18 Caribbean and Central America countries, as well as from Puerto Rico. Until recently, however, no one cultivated them commercially in those areas.
It is not exactly a fruit that’s easy to grow.
Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is difficult to propagate by convenient methods like grafting, and when raised from seed takes 8 to 10 years or longer to bear fruit, a major disincentive for aspiring growers.
The NYT article tells a long tale of Ian Crown’s determination against the odds to grow and export these rare fruits.
Canned mangosteens have been available for some time (at least in Asian specialty markets) and some health-food products and supplements are made from them. But, of course, there is no substitute for fresh ones. And eat them as much as you can:
Fresh mangosteen may just be starting to arrive here, but since 2002, nutritional supplement purveyors have aggressively marketed high-priced mangosteen juice blends for their purported medical benefits, fueling an improbable boom. Southeast Asians have long used mangosteen rind as a traditional remedy for various ailments, and laboratory studies indicate that chemicals in the rind called xanthones show promise in combating bacteria, fungi, inflammation, free radicals and cancer. [...] Mangosteen elixirs, made with purÃ©es of the whole fruit, are pricey, ranging from $17 to $40 for about 24 ounces, especially since they primarily contain other fruit juices and have little mangosteen flavor.
There is a juice purveyor at mangosteens.com. Only $14.95 for sixteen ounces (plus shipping and handling, of course).