My pick this week is an absolutely beautiful but very niche fruit: the fresh Australian Mangosteen. Available from November to March, it is absolutely one of the most delicious fruits you can taste. The imported fruit at other times of the year is not so good to eat, due to our quarantine treatment. It’s a purple coloured fruit in a leathery casing with a green stem on top. This you throw away and it’s only the white flesh inside (which is only about 30% of the fruit) that you actually eat.
It’s a very small crop in our country, we grow about 200 tonnes a year. Mangosteens are quite dear for a number of reasons. The trees take 7 to 10 years to fruit, the trees are huge and get blown down by the cyclones, you need a cherry picker to reach a lot of the fruit and they grow on the sides of hills - it’s a work safety nightmare! A few growers are now experimenting with espalier pruning of the trees, but very few of these are commercially available yet. This week there is a spike in their supply in the markets. Usually, the fruit is pre-ordered and goes to the Asian shops around Sydney. This week they are plentiful, in peak season, as well priced as they get, and absolutely delicious. Enjoy them whilst you can.
HOW TO PICK
Mangosteens do not ripen any further once harvested. Pick fruit with minor skin imperfections or discolouration. Look for a green stem which will indicate good quality, fresh fruit. Avoid fruit that is very hard, it should give slightly when pressed gently.
HOW TO STORE
Mangosteens will keep for a few days without refrigeration. Putting them in the fridge will cause cold damage.
Be careful when eating mangosteens as the juice from the skin can stain!