Aug 2007

Vegetation Profile: Mangosteen

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My brother sent me an interesting piece from the New York Times the other day about Mangosteens:

Don’t be surprised if you see a round purple fruit in a locked jewel case at the grocery. Small shipments of fresh mangosteen, a Southeast Asian fruit legendary for its exquisite flavor but long unavailable legally on the United States mainland, started coming in last week from Puerto Rico.

Mitchell Spitz, the owner of the Orchard, a high-end produce store in Brooklyn, said he paid $30 a pound wholesale and was selling the fruit for $45 a pound (about $10 each).

Mangosteens are seriously addictive, but at ten dollars a piece? I think I’ll stick to apples, oranges, and the mundane when I return to the states. Even though mangosteens are priced a little higher than other fruits in Saigon, their prices still trail far behind those in the US. I bought mangosteens the other weekend at a produce stand in District 4 for 25,000 VND per kilogram, which roughly equates to 75¢ per pound. ¡Que Ganga!

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Mangosteens Arrive, but Be Prepared to Pay

Published: August 8, 2007

DON’T be surprised if you see a round purple fruit in a locked jewel case at the grocery. Small shipments of fresh mangosteen, a Southeast Asian fruit legendary for its exquisite flavor but long unavailable legally on the United States mainland, started coming in last week from Puerto Rico.

Concerns about pests on foreign mangosteens kept them from being imported. But now the first commercial crop in Puerto Rico is ready for shipment.

About 80 pounds are scheduled to arrive by FedEx in New York and Los Angeles this morning, said the grower, Ian Crown, and the season should last for a few more weeks.

They will go to luxury hotels and markets, said Erwan Landivinec of Baldor, the East Coast distributor. Mitchell Spitz, the owner of the Orchard, a high-end produce store in Brooklyn, said he paid $30 a pound wholesale and was selling the fruit for $45 a pound (about $10 each).

Louis Balducci, a partner in the Agata & Valentina store and restaurant on the Upper East Side, said he would offer a fresh mangosteen as a dessert special at the restaurant. “How could I sell it in the store at these prices?” he said. “Next to the caviar?”

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11 thoughts on “Vegetation Profile: Mangosteen

  1. Yeah,
    I bought some while traveling in Cambodia not knowing what they were. But the vendor let us each try one, then we bought about 1 kg probably for about $1. Very good, but I’d not pay $10 for one.

  2. I miss these, but I don’t think I’d pay that much because it would just remind me how difficult it is to get my favorite kinds of fruit around here!

  3. I recently returned from a trip to Thailand and had the great pleasure of trying the mangosteen for the first time. It couldn’t have been more fresh unless I ate it directly off the tree itself. So began my love affair with this perfect little fruit and I would have been happy just to have eaten them the rest of my stay.

    You can imagine my great disappointment when I returned to the states only to have my search for mangosteens come up short. The canned version I found was nothing more than mushy lumps of what might be mangosteen swimming in syrup, tasting nothing even comparable to what I had sunken my teeth into just a week before.

    When I stumbled upon this blog this afternoon, I was once again filled with joy. Although a bit put off that these little gems were going for such a high price. While I would pay 10 dollars for one, I’m sure the cost alone would stop many people from even trying it. I understand the reasoning behind some foods being so pricey, but I do think it is incredibly sad that most people don’t get to experience some really magnificent eats just because of the cost.

    Regardless, the mangosteens have arrived and I am elated! Viva la Mangosteen! ;-P Thanks for posting this, you made my day.

  4. I know the price may sounds insane,
    But I will be the one waiting for that gorgeous fruit to arrive at the grocery store.
    I’ve been searching for it for a long long time,
    Can’t wait to have my bite on it!

  5. I went to Cambodia about 12 years ago and this fruit is the only thing I remember. I’ve been searching for the name alone for such a long time and finally here it is! My girlfriend IMed me and said “I think I found that fruit you like” and here it was! Thanks!

  6. $10.00 a piece! That is nuts! But I do want to have the hubby taste this heavenly fruit. It better be in pristine condition!

  7. IT is going to be interesting to see how the West’s interest in mangosteens are going to continue to affect it’s pricing.

  8. I paid $16 for 2lbs. I couldn’t help it, its been almost 10 yrs since I had it last! Lol, i know its sad but its just soo yummy!!

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