Twice a year the mangostino shows up in Bogotá. While some stores carry the hard skinned purple fruit we see more of it being sold by vendors on the street.
Like many other of Colombia’s produce it has medicinal properties. The mangostino acts as an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. In addition it is good for blood circulation to the point that medical advice is to not eat it if you are taking blood thinners. I have heard it being used in Asia for skin and urinary tract infections. To take advantage of its medicinal properties people make a tea from the rind.
Known as mangosteen in other parts of the world the plant is not unique to Colombia. There is evidence that the people of India used it over 2,000 years ago. Yingyai Shenglan of China described it in a book in the 15th century. Then in 1752 Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, wrote about it.
Today it is found mostly in Southeast Asia. Largest crops come from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Mangostino is also grown in parts of the Caribbean and South American including Colombia. Basically it needs places where the weather never drops below freezing.
The raw fruit was not allowed into the USA until 2007. One report stated the price at that time was around $60 a pound. When you can find it now, the cost is lower. However in Colombia we pay about $1 USD a pound.
The fruit in its fresh form is still banned in many countries. But often it is available in a can. Unfortunately the taste of the fruit deteriorates after packaging.
To eat the mangostino you cut the fruit in half. The segmented white substance attached to the seed is the edible part. The taste is very sweet and smooth.
Trees grow to a height of between 6 to 25 meters (20 to 80 feet). There are websites that explain how to grow a tree from a seed. But do not get a in hurry because it takes about three years for it to reach a height of one meter.
We look forward to the mangostino arriving in Bogotá. It makes a great late night snack while watching television. And if the medicinal properties are true then it is good for us as well.