After the abundance of summer vegetables, we often forget that autumn also gives us a great variety of delicious seasonal fruit. Apples, pears, persimmons and pomegranates join citrus, but perhaps not everyone knows that we are in the best time to enjoy mango, another exquisite national fruit.
Because mango cultivation has flourished successfully in Spain for a long time, along with other tropical fruits such as avocado or papaya. Since they became fashionable they no longer sound so exotic to us, but sometimes it seems impossible to find them of true quality. It’s not really that difficult, you just have to know a little about its particular characteristics and bet on the national product when it’s in season.
Mango, the tropical jewel
It is estimated that the origin of the mango is located in areas of Southeast Asia, probably in the northern regions of India, near the Himalayas, Burma or Sri Lanka. Its cultivation is very old and currently has spread to tropical and subtropical climate zones around the world, highlighting Mexico, Indonesia, India, Florida, Brazil, South Africa, Israel or the Philippines. In Europe, Spain has become the main producer and exporter.
Taxonomically it belongs to the family of the Anacardiaceae, gender Mangifera, species indicates. Trees of different varieties they are evergreen, and in tropical climates they can reach more than 40 meters in height. Being a plant that always looks green, with a rounded crown and thin, elongated leaves, it is also used as an ornamental tree.
The mango as such is the fruit of the tree, a very fleshy dupra with fine skin. It has a single inner seed that usually acquires a large size -the bone- and the pulp is characterized by its juiciness, meatiness and sweet flavor, depending on the varieties.
A climacteric fruit that must be allowed to ripen
We tend to speak generically of “mango” but there are many different varieties, some thirty main commercial ones, each with its own characteristics. The first thing that interests us to know is that it is a climacteric fruit -such as avocado or tomato-, which continues to mature once harvested from the tree. But that does not mean that any green mango will become a delight if we leave it in the kitchen for a long time.
As Jesús Molina from AvoPremium tells us, “They are usually taken with a margin of 15 days before the optimum point of consumption, since the process is: farmer, warehouse, distribution centers, department stores, point of sale and final consumer”. It is too many days before the fruit has reached its ideal maturity on the tree, but necessary when the product arrives from the other side of the world. So many common mangoes from the shops never taste of anything, or they have a fibrous and dry pulp.
“At this point we do it differently, since by shortening the distribution chain we try to make the fruit ripen on the tree, so it has the flavor it should”
It is logical, and at this point, it should not surprise anyone: the best fruits and vegetables are from proximity, collected at their point and when they are in their best season. That is why it is absurd to complain about a bad melon in February if it comes from Brazil or South African oranges in August. Mango, the good quality mango, lives its best season from the end of summer until the winter cold begins.
Producers are committed to growing different varieties to offer a greater range to the consumer and extend the season, since the latter can be harvested even well into the month of December. There are larger and smaller handles, more rounded and elongated, redder and more yellow; but if its natural cycle has been respected, any variety of table consumption can be a delicacy.
Mango cultivation in Spain
The mango tree was introduced to the Canary Islands at the end of the 18th century, although commercial production did not begin until the mid-1970s. A little later cultivation began in southern Andalusia, specifically in areas of Malaga such as La Axarquía and the Costa Tropical de Granada. The peculiar weather conditions of these regions have made it possible to adapt different tropical crops to our country, creating a booming market that is already spreading to other regions.
Andalusia concentrates more than 70% of the total production
In the Region of Murcia, for example, it is also increasingly betting on promoting tropical crops such as mango, avocado or papaya. The goal is to achieve subtropical crops that are an alternative to more traditional products Mediterranean, to stimulate the sector and also combat the problems derived from climate change.
Main mango varieties grown in Spain
It is the most cultivated variety in Spain, especially in the Malaga area. It has a slightly elongated, oblong shape, with a color that varies between red and purple / purple, with some orange or greenish-yellow areas. The average weight is around 400-600 g, with a small seed and firm and somewhat hard skin, resistant to transport.
It is a fleshy mango with few internal fibers, sweet but mild flavor, keeping acid and fresh touches that are already noticeable in its aroma when it is well ripe. It offers a long season, from September to late November.
Also ovoid in shape but less elongated, it reminds of an orb or ostrich egg. It is easily recognized by its codor of red and yellow tones when ripe, and it is very aromatic and sweet, with a very juicy pulp and practically nothing fibrous. If it has a lot of yellow coloration, it is a sign of high maturity.
When very ripe it is one of the sweetest and most fruity mangoes, almost creamy inside, reminiscent of the peach. The skin is somewhat thicker than other varieties. Due to its buttery texture, it is highly appreciated for preparing sauces, desserts and creams.
Its optimal season begins well into the month of October. It’s a mango more acid and fresh, with a meat with practically no fiber, with a very thin skin. It is one of the less sweet varieties, it has less sugar and therefore it has a firm and slightly crunchier interior, but at the same time it is very juicy.
Visually recognizable by its more flattened ovaloid shape and for its lively reddish color, tending to an intense pink, with greenish markings that can go to lime yellow. In some areas of Asia it is also used green and to prepare pickles. It is a handle that can reach especially large sizes, even reaching a kilo of weight.
Also known as “honey mango”, it has practically no fiber, so its meat is very creamy and soft, but maintaining a firm texture when it is just right. It is oval, slightly flat, with a smaller size than other varieties and a very small seed. It stands out for its bright yellow color.
Dark orange or deep red when ripe, with green touches and some yellowish markings, this variety is less elongated and presents a higher interior fiber content. Its pulp is firmer and somewhat less juicy, but with a mild sweet flavor suitable for eating naturally.
It is not the sweetest or the juiciest mango, but it is of the varieties that best adapt to any terrain and resists well to the most common diseases of this plant. They are less delicate handles, withstand transport and handling better and keep well for longer periods of time.
The Sensation o Sensation is a variety of mango that has earned the nickname of “king in the north” for being a fruit especially resistant to colder temperatures. His season is one of the latest, being collected even in December, so it is usually the star of the Christmas parties.
It is an aromatic mango, of balanced sweet taste, with a slightly yellowish pulp with practically no fibers. Storage in a chamber makes it possible to extend the mango season well into winter.
Considered by many to be one of the highest quality mangoes for its organoleptic qualities, but more difficult to cultivate. Trees are more delicate and sensitive to temperature, sometimes producing little or no fruit. It is one of the earliest harvest varieties, anticipating even the month of July or early August.
It is a smaller handle, about 350-400 g, oval and tapering at the tip. It is very sweet and aromatic, with few fibers and a fine and delicate skin when handling. When it is at its peak it is recognized by its vibrant red-yellow color, which as it matures more it darkens, appearing orange and more yellowish notes.
They are called this way to the tiny pieces that are commercialized of some varieties, like the Irwin or Ataúlfo, also called “bonbon”. These fruits are produced when during flowering there is a thermal stress that makes the seed unviable. Sweet and delicate, they concentrate all the flavor of their older brothers and can even be eaten directly with the skin.
How to choose and store mango at home
The first key to enjoying a good mango at home is bet on our national product during its season -That is, no looking for mangoes in March-. Unfortunately, it seems that many supermarkets still do not offer Spanish mangoes, so read the label carefully to reject mangoes that travel thousands of kilometers.
The simplest is contact producers directly to avoid intermediaries and ensure that we receive the best fruit directly selected for our order. There are many companies and cooperatives specialized in tropical fruit that already offer direct sales on request, and many producers work directly through online or telephone sales.
Examples such as the one we already saw from Exotic Fruit or the youngest AvoPremium team, also Andalusian, show that it is a market that works and that consumers are increasingly concerned about investing in local, seasonal and good quality produce.
To the dispense with intermediaries the fruit usually arrives in about 24 hours after it is harvested by hand from the tree, and that allows you to play with the …