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mangosteens

Tim Manners From Cool News posted this interesting artilce on Mangosteens.

"This is like seeing a unicorn," says Sherry Yard, pastry chef at Spago Beverly Hills, reacting to the arrival of a shipment of mangosteens, a rare, "floral, sweet-tart" tropical fruit that some think has medicinal qualities, reports David Karp in The New York Times (8/9/06). The shipment was courtesy of the Puerto Rico-based Panoramic Fruit Company, which "hopes to be the first producer in decades to ship fresh mangosteens to the mainland commercially." Panoramic's founder, Ian Crown, has been working for more than ten years to raise a decent mangosteen crop, and he now has 10 acres bearing fruit. "I learned everything the 'two-by-four in the forehead' way," he says.

For starters, "mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) is difficult to propagate by convenient methods like grafting, and when raised from seed it takes 8 to 10 years or longer to bear fruit." Half of Ian's first crop was wiped out because he didn't realize the weakness of the mangosteen root system, and didn't irrigate properly. Then, back in 1997, "local youths burned most of his plantings to the ground, and in 1998 Hurricane George swept through 'like a weed whacker combined with a vacuum cleaner,'" as Ian puts it. In addition, even though mangosteens have "thick rinds," they "can develop problems like gamboge, a bitter yellow resin that seeps into the pulp." In addition, they can get buggy, which is a key reason why you pretty much haven't been able buy mangosteens in America.

There actually is no shortage of mangosteens in Thailand, but their exports must be irradiated before they can be allowed into the United States. Previous attempts to export mangosteens from Puerto Rico -- going back to 1903 -- failed because the necessary fumigation made the mangosteens "susceptible to rapid spoilage." Ian thinks his competitive edge will be that his fruit will be fresher and not irradiated. And while he is enchanted by the "snow-white" segments of the mangosteen, he is not so enthralled with its supposed ability to battle "various ailments," including cancer. Another enterprise, called XanGo, is marketing mangosteen beverages through health food stores as a "fruitaceutical." For the moment, Ian Crown is just happy that he's managed to produce 200 pounds of mangosteen from 35 trees. He says that future yields "should increase exponentially."

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