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One of the tastiest fruit I discovered in China was the shan zhu, or mangosteen.These are the fruit of an evergreen tree originally native to Indonesia, and are also widely used in Chinese and other traditional medicines.

Mangosteen are about the size of a mandarin orange, but come in a rock-hard purple rind. The problem that this rind poses is two-fold: You have to crack it (best done with palms and force, knives have been broken on these fruit!), and you have pretty much no chance of telling whether the fruit is just right or completely rotten (hence the 50/50 chance).

Now, once cracked, the rind will reveal white, orange-like segments that separate very easily and form a beautiful contrast to the dark purple outer layer:

The flavor is sweet, and doesn’t really compare to anything I’ve had before. But believe me, it tastes wonderful enough to risk the 50% chance of finding rotten segments. The texture reminded me somewhat of juicy, ripe plums, not oranges. Nutritionally speaking, the fruit is low in calories with only 63kcal per 100g of edible fruit portion. They are high in fiber, and fairly rich in folates. They can’t compare to stars like dragonfruit, but they’re tasty and good for you, nonetheless.

My advice? Try it! And sometimes the fruit vendors magically know which ones will be good, so just smile and nod and let them select for you.

Does anyone know the trick to selecting a ripe mangosteen? Are there foods you never can trust but are willing to risk it every single time in hopes of success? Or have you abandoned any that you thought weren’t worth it?