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Mangosteen

Contrary to its name, the mangosteen doesn’t resemble or taste like the mango; rather, it is deep purple and round, similar in size to a mandarin. It comes from a native Asian tree that takes from 10 to 15 years to bear fruit. The highly prized fruit has a thick skin that is hard and inedible and which, when cut open, reveals a soft, white flesh divided into segments, some of which contain seeds. The taste is delicate, reminiscent of pineapple. To open, cut it in half through the skin only and lightly twist the halves apart. Eat the white flesh in segments like an orange, add to fruit salads or use in sorbets. Look for mangosteens during spring and summer. Colour is a good indication of ripeness—pale–green fruit are immature and turn dark purple or red–purple when ripe. The fruit will keep for a few days without refrigeration but will keep for longer if wrapped and stored in the fridge. The kokum, a relative of the mangosteen, is used dried in southern Indian cooking as a souring agent like tamarind. Kokum butter is also extracted from the seeds and can be used for cooking.