Take the time to find this elusive antioxidant powerhouse, and you'll be rewarded with delicious flavor. Mangosteen is a tropical fruit hailing from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, with a thick, almost black rind that's beet-red on the inside (and stains like one, too). The rind encloses a soft, juicy white interior that consists of nearly seedless segments that one can pick off, much like a tangerine, but much more delicate. The flavor is definitely standard tropical fruit — sweet almost to the point of being syrupy — but, it's also offset with a slight tang. Just like a tangerine.
Where can you find mangosteen? It's easiest to find it sold as a juice, but if you look really hard, you should be able to find the whole fruit. (Yours truly, for example, has been surprised to find it in New York City's Chinatown, as well as online.) Asian supermarkets are also a good place to start, and upscale grocers like Whole Foods may carry them from time to time, too. However, since this is obviously an imported product, this is one occasion when the local farmers market will not be the place to shop.
Look for mangosteens with fresh green stems and leaves and a smooth black exterior. Steer clear of those with dry brown stems or leaves, or those with a powdery yellow coating. These are both signs of age. Expect to pay about $5 per pound for these treats, so picking good mangosteens is important.
Opening a mangosteen is actually a lot of fun, but can be intimidating for a first timer. First of all, because the method will invariably result in hard-to-remove stains, we caution against wearing a white shirt while opening them; in fact, we'd advise just removing your shirt altogether. (This might not be a fruit you want to eat around other people.)
Weaving your fingers together, hold the fruit with the green stem facing up in between both palms over a work surface. Press your hands together firmly until the white flesh bursts out from the bottom of the fruit — don't worry, you won't pop the fruit inside. Voilà! Enjoy — you just gave birth to your first mangosteen. (If this method doesn't work, give up — it's a crappy mangosteen.) Peel off individual segments, or just plop the whole thing into your mouth.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.