Foreigners coming to Thailand will encounter the mangosteen for the first time. This sweet, tangy fruit can be found all over Southeast Asia other tropical areas such as Colombia and Puerto Rico, where the tree has been introduced. It’s known in Thailand as the Queen of Fruits.
There are basically two ways to open a mangosteen, either with your hands or with a knife.
Most of the time I open mangosteens with my hands, except when I serve them on a plate, then I use a knife.
With Your Hands
There are two common techniques to open mangosteens with your hands. Both are practical since they don’t require a knife. It can however, be messy and leave purple stains on your fingers!
Here is the first technique: Hold the mangosteen loosely with all your finger tips, around the middle of the fruit. Then, gently press the skin with your finger tips, while rolling the fruit.
This creates a crack in the middle of the fruit. Now you can break open the rind. Most Thais hold the rind and casually bite the meat out. If you are not comfortable to eat this way, use a fork.
Photos 1 and 2. Hold the mangosteen in your hand with the crown facing downward. Then, press the bottom of the fruit with your thumb, until a circular crack forms.
Photo 3. Press the sides of the fruit with your thumb and index finger. The pressure will break the rind open.
Photos 4 and 5. Gently break off the rind until all that is left is the pulp and the crown. Now you can hold the mangosteen by the stem and eat it like a popsicle.
In my experience, this technique works well as long as the fruit is not too ripe. When the rind is soft, it’s difficult to crack it open. Instead, it gets squashed.
With A Knife
It’s less messy to open mangosteens with a knife than to use your hands. At the same time, you may accidentally cut into the meat, which creates a brownish line in the white pulp.
There is no problem with that when you are the one to eat it. However, if you want to display the fruits on a plate, you need to be gentle when cutting the rind. That way, the knife won’t touch the flesh.
To open a mangosteen with a knife, cut the rind all the way around the fruit. Make sure that the blade of the knife doesn’t come into contact with the pulp. Break the fruits open and place them on a plate. Thais serve the pulp in the bottom part of the rind.
You can make it more exotic by not removing the top part of the rind, after cutting. In addition, this keeps the pulp fresh and prevents oxidation.