Hey readers! I’m back again, after a long haul! Lately, we’ve been learning about fruits and vegetables and the different categories they fall under and guess what I found out! BANANAS ARE BERRIES!!! OH! MY! GOD! Like who would have thought of that? But it only made sense, when I read a particular article on Why Are Bananas Berries, But Strawberries Aren’t? which stated “to be a berry, fruits must develop from one flower that has one ovary […] Some plants, such as the blueberry, have flowers with just one ovary. Hence, the blueberry is a true berry […] Tomatoes, peppers, cranberries, eggplants and kiwis come from a flower with one ovary, and so are also berries “. Now, isn’t that interesting?
Anyway, getting back to what I had to say, I went on a fruit hunting trip today for my blog assignment. I was hoping to go to Phil’s Place, which is right inside St. Lawrence Market, but realized that the market remains closed on Mondays. So, I decided to check out other places where I could get a large selection of fruits to choose from for my blog. I remember going to Chinatown the week before to satiate my cravings for barbecue duck, and found this really cool grocery store selling all sorts of asian food stuff. I promised myself I would be back again, for grocery shopping soon, and guess what? I did exactly that today!!
I went to Hua Sheng Supermarket and wasn’t the least disappointed. They had everything you needed for asian cooking including produce, meat, fish and refrigerated section along with all the spices and condiments too. It’s the grocer that spills out onto Spadina Avenue just north of Dundas on the east side with all the seasonal vegetables and fruits. This asian supermarket will always be my go-to for Chinese food dishes like Asian Gourmet spice packs, ramen noodles, and hot sauce. Also, they have the best chili oil sauce around, especially the one with peanuts in it.
So, off I went on my mini adventure of fruit hunting. As soon as I arrived at Hua Sheng, I scanned through all the fruit bins and found the fruit I had been looking for and there it was the elusive Mangosteen, dressed in her royal purple mantel, ready to be tasted. The Mangosteen (Garcinia Mangostana), named after the French explorer Laurent Garcin, is of the Clusiaceae family. It is a tropical fruit thought to have originated in Indonesia, and can be found predominantly in Southeast Asia. It is sometimes known as the “Queen of Fruits” due to a legend that Queen Victoria had offered a reward of 100 pounds sterling for anyone that was able to deliver her the fruit. The nickname also comes from the ancient Chinese belief that it is a cooling (yin) fruit, so complements the heat (yang) of the “King of Fruits” – the infamous Durian.
It takes a tree over 12 years to mature reaching a height of 6 – 20cm. Bearing in alternate seasons, a tree can produce over 1000 fruits per year. Each fruit is about the size of a clementine and deep purple in colour. The harvesting season varies from region to region depending on altitude, rainfall, sunlight and shade exposure.
Since, it was the first time I was trying mangosteen, I asked my fellow grocery shoppers for help with choosing the ripe ones, an old lady was kind enough to help me out and gave me a lesson that I shall always remember. So, now I shall be kind enough to impart that same knowledge onto you, my readers. When selecting your mangosteen, slightly squeeze it in the palm of your hand. It should give slightly, all the way around the fruit. Usually, where the fruit is rock hard to touch, the fruit inside is inedible or damaged. The fresher the mangosteen, the greener its stalk.
This fruit has a very hard purple shell. In order to eat it, I had to open by scoring it with a sharp knife about 2 cm deep all around the outer skin, then twisted the cap off to get it open. At first a bark-like, woody scent emanated from its inedible rind. However, the inner pulp had a light fruity aroma, that of peaches and strawberry. The ivory-white flesh that looked like slimy garlic cloves was divided into 5 – 6 segments,the largest of which contained a seed.
It tasted refreshingly majestic. It was sweet, with slight sour notes. The flavours are a reminiscent of nectarines, pineapple, and citrus, with a delicate and smooth texture. The texture of each wedge is actually citrus-like as well, but again, that is where the similarities end, as the taste is just so unique.
I wouldn’t recommend cooking this fruit because of its delicate structure. It is more suitable for a dessert,adding anything to this fruit will alter the subtle taste of the mangosteen. However, if I were to make something from the fruit, it would definitely be a desert without a doubt. Here is a recipe I’d like to share :
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 10 minutes
- 4 oz mangosteen puree
- 8 oz heavy cream
- 6 oz plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 gelatin sheets
- Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water for 2-3 minutes until softened, then squeeze water.
- In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mangosteen puree, cream, lime zest, vanilla, and sugar until smooth.
- Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.
- In a small pan melt the gelatin over low heat, and stir in the sugar and vanilla.
- Whisk the gelatin mixture thoroughly into the yogurt mixture.
- Pour the mixture into 4 glasses and chill until firm.
So, that my readers is an easy-peasy recipe for a classic summer dessert. You can even garnish the panna cotta with a mango salsa, made with chunks of mango, mangosteen and lime juice.
If I had to pick only one fruit to eat for the rest of my life, it would be the mangosteen. Like most tropical fruits, their taste is hard to describe because there isn’t really anything remotely similar. In general, they are refreshing and juicy, with a sweet flavour and somewhat fruity fragrance. If they weren’t so hard to find in Toronto or so expensive (be prepared to pay up to $4.59 for a pound), I would have one (or more) a day to keep the cravings away.
This whole fruit hunting experience gave me an opportunity to learn more about the different fruit varieties, as well as the seasonal produce in and around Toronto. It also gave me an insight on different exotic fruits apart from mangosteen. I would definitely have tried Durian, had I not been skeptical about it, because it looks similar to a jackfruit only smaller; only because I have heard people say that it has an unbearable stench. There were other fruits too; like the rambutan, though they remind me of lychees, the longans and the kumquat.
Go on then readers, try your own hand at making this recipe and let me know how it goes. Also, go fruit hunting, try some new fruits, and never stop eating!! Adios!