Sweet, Sweet MANGOSTEEN

What a treat to be vacationing in the Philippines during May!  The markets are teeming with summer fruit, among them the sweetest of the sweet, the mangosteen.

 
This fruit has an exotic provenance to match its wonderful looks and absolutely, positively delectable taste.  It is believed to have originated in the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas.  
 
The Sunda Islands currently fall under the jurisdiction of four countries (BruneiEast TimorIndonesia, and Malaysia) and are grouped into the Greater and the Lesser Sundas.  The Greater Sundas include the large islands of JavaSumatraBorneoand Sulawesi.  Note how close they are to the Philippines. 

The Lesser Sundasa group of small islands north Australia, include BaliLombokSumbawa,
FloresSumbaTimorAlor archipelagoBarat Daya Islands, and the Tanimbar Islands.
The Moluccas are aarchipelago within Indonesiathey are located east of Sulawesi, west of New Guinea, and north and east of Timor. The islands were also historically known as the “Spice Islands” by the Chinese and Europeans.
File:Map of Maluku Islands-en.svg

Considering that early settlers in our islands came from Indonesia, Borneo, and Malaysia, it is safe to assume that early mangosteen trees/seedlings/fruits were carried by them. 
Mangosteen currently grow in countries of Southeast Asia, in the Indian state of Kerla, and in South American countries such as Colombia and Puerto Rico — places that enjoy tropical climates.  Some people find the mangosteen cloyingly sweet; to me, its sweetness is just the epitome of the taste.  I only wish there was more to eat besides the white pulp or the endocarp!
Commerical mangosteen juice products contain extracts from the inedible rind or exocarp, making the juice purple-colored and bitter. It therefore needs to be sweetened; hopefully not with high-fructose corn syrup.
Import restrictions, mainly intended to prevent the spread of the Asian fruit fly, forbid the sale of fresh mangosteen in many Western countries for many years.  Only canned, dehydrated, and freeze-dried mangosteen were sold until the lifting of such rule in 2007, when the fresh produce commanded as high as $45 per pound!

In MetroManila, fresh mangosteen is sold during a six to ten week window in summer, mainly along roadsides and select stores.  Because of irregular supplies and non-standard product grading, pricing is not uniform.  I was fortunate to get my share of this wonder of fruits at 200 Philippine pesos (US$5) per kilogram, which yielded 8 pieces.  I intend to get more, as often as I can, wherever stores display them!
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