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The mangosteen tree and its fruit originated within the Malay Archipelago the land of the Orang-Utan and the Bird of Paradise. This is the region located between Southeast Asia and Australia. Laurent Garcin was a French naturalist who traveled throughout Southeast Asia collecting and describing the native plants of the region. One of the plants he described was the mangosteen tree and its fruit.
During the year of 1775 John Ellis as a fellow of the Royal Society of London expounded upon the botanical treasures of far off Africa and the Malay Archipelago. The original intent of his work was to inform his Majesty "The Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty of GREAT BRITAIN" of a prospect that ”seems conducive to the benefit of any part of the British Empire..." The mangosteen, as it stands was the other plant under consideration in this 18th century publication titled "A description of the mangostan and the bread-fruit" by John Ellis (mangostan was the word for the mangosteen in the Molucca Islands). This publication even contained a stylized sketch of the breadfruit and the mangosteen.
Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern Taxonomy was a regular correspondent with John Ellis. Taxonomy is the science of naming, ranking and classifying organisms a system still in use today. Linnaeus honored the work of Laurent Garcin by naming the genus Garcinia after Laurent and classifying the official Latin name of the mangsosteen as Garcinia Mangostana L which not only includes the mangosteen but other plants. Besides the mangosteen, there are numerous other species within the genus, many of which produce edible fruit but none as exquisite as the mangosteen.
Many confuse mangosteen with mango. There is no connection or relationship between the two fruits other than the fact that they are both fruits.
During this time in history the navies of the Spanish, French, Dutch, British and Portuguese raced around the globe exploring and claiming far off lands as their own respectively. Each brought their own cadre of naturalists, botanists and scientist looking to discover the many varieties of plants and animals. During this great Age of Enlightenment from the mid 1600’s to the early 1800’s bold and adventuresome European explorers such as F. W. Burbidge of England, Monsignor Jean-Baptiste Pallegoix of France, Henri Mouhot a French naturalist, Odoardo Beccari of Italy, Eric Mjöberg of Sweden, and William Roxburgh a Scottish surgeon and botanist provided us with the earliest descriptions of the taste of mangosteen fruit:
Burbidge reported; "...something like that of the finest nectarine, but with a dash of strawberry and pine-apple added."
Pallegoix in then Siam now Thailand said; “They exhume a sweet perfume approaching that of the raspberry and have the taste of strawberries."
Odoardo Beccari; " abundant white, juicy pulp, soft, sweet, slightly acidulated, and with a delicate, delicious flavour, which recalls that of a fine peach, muscatel grapes, and something peculiar and indescribable which no other fruit has."
Eric Mjöberg; "The mangosteen has only one fault; it is impossible to eat enough of it, but, strictly speaking, perhaps that is a defect in the eater rather than in the fruit.""It would be mere blasphemy to attempt to describe its wonderful taste, the very culmination of culinary art for any unspoilt palate."
Mangosteen has continued as a staple fruit in the tropics. On a recent trip into China while staying in Beijing I was able to find fresh Mangosteen fruit at the local open air market. The taste of the soft white inner fruit was exquisite and well worth the effort to hunt it down in the market. Mangosteen is still restricted as a fresh fruit in the United States but can be found at very high prices. A more reasonable approach to Mangosteen is the juice which seems to be readily available. Like many of the other “Super Fruit” juices there is a wide range of options. Most companies offer a juice that is 20% or less Mangosteen juice while the other end of the spectrum of juices at 100% exists as well. The problem with these is that on one hand you have a fruit punch and the other you have a very bitter astringent flavor that is hard to drink. We solve this problem with our special blend. We are the only company that makes a juice with 85% of the juice being whole fruit Mangosteen and the remainder 15% just from a couple of other juices to support the flavor profile. That juice is Dr. Tim’s Thai Mangosteen.