Mexico revs up mango engines with Ataulfos to start the season
Most packing sheds are currently opened, opening or will be opening in the next few weeks in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas.
Ataulfos are on track to start first – some growers have started picking and others will start picking next week and, in the weeks, to follow. Ideally growers should be particular in the pack out as its been reported by several growers – we included- that because of heavy rains during December when fruit formation was taking place, much of the onset fruit may not be of the highest quality (on the outside). Some growers, like us, are opting to have more patience as the fruit behind the onset fruit is showing much better quality. Being particular in terms of pack out vs, the pack everything methodology that often occurs with the opening of the season, has proven to be more successful for our rather large Ataulfo program that lasts through August, typically.
Mangoes continue to surprise and delight me. They are a lot like people. Whenever I think I know something about them, they prove me wrong. Things that grow are complex by nature, and taking a cookie cutter approach to defining them always fails.
As I proceed on my mango-centric food education mission, I have a responsibility to admit when I am wrong and when I too am guilty of being “scripted” along the way.
In my current life surrounded by mangoes, I meet countless mango lovers who fell head over heels through their excursions around the globe. (I personally discovered mangoes as a little girl in Nicaragua.) The mango embodies flavors of nostalgia, awakening the feeling of those far off exotic places with every bite. The most devout members of this mango lover tribe seem to be those who discovered mangoes while in Thailand. These mango lovers have tasted mangoes with a more dynamic richness and more stages of ripeness than anywhere else in the world. They also seem to be the only mango connoisseurs that know the sweet green mango!
As we soar into August we typically roll out of the long Mexican mango season. Some years the period winds down at the beginning or middle of August, and some others go through until the beginning of September. This season the latter is expected, it starts as far down as Chiapas and slowly makes its way up Mexico’s tropical Pacific coast, through Oaxaca, Michoacán, Jalisco, Nayarit, Baja and Sinaloa, with a grand finale in Los Mochis. The Keitt, a late-season cultivar originating in Florida from a Mulgoba seed, is most predominant in Sinaloa’s northern production. We also see a significant amount of this cultivar in the Rosario and Los Mochis areas of Sinaloa, which is the only mainland USDA NO TREATMENT zone for all imported mangoes into the USA (due to the area being declared a fruit fly-free zone by USDA). Its trees tend to tower on average at about 60 feet high. These large trees produce gigantic mangoes by comparison to others that we see in North & South America: if the average mango is a size 9cnt, the average Keitt comes in at about a 6cnt. Mangoes are sized for the USA/Canadian marketplace as a count in a 4Kg box, so a size 9cnt mango would weigh about a pound and a size 6cnt would weigh about a pound and half.
In the height of peak Mexican mango season in Sinaloa, usually around July, we see the markets giddy with anticipation for the Kent mango. As more and more Mexican farmers continue to do away with other consumer-coveted varietals, the Kent is generally a welcome addition on both sides.
The Ataulfo, often seen referred to as a Champagne Mango (a name trademarked by a specific importer years back) or yellow mango, is known as Mexico’s “yellow slipper”, (after the slipper shape) as it is described in Spanish. It is one of the most coveted mango varietals available to us in North America. The oval or (sort of) kidney bean-shaped fruit has a slightly spicy and vibrant, super sweet flavor; it is constantly revered for its nonfibrous flesh and buttery consistency, as well as its small narrow seed. In terms of mangoes, the Ataulfo offers what is pretty near perfection in a mango-eating experience. In my opinion, the flavors of the Ataulfo scream Mexico, with subtle but bright citrus (limón) and spicy (chili) undertones smothered in a sweet (sugar caramel) buttery flesh.
“It has the greatest flavor that has ever tickled the palate of man.” Marshall Schwisher, eminent publisher of music.
If you live in Florida you are probably more than aware of the beauty of Haden mangoes. Not only are they one of the most fragrant and perfumed kind, but also a Florida cultivar, likely hailing from a cross between a Mulgoba and a turpentine mango. The Mulgoba is one of the earlier mango varietals originating from the south of India and it’s considered by many to be the best tasting in the world. The Mulgoba eventually made its way over to Cuba and then Florida. It is typically a very large, sweet and tasty fruit. Due to its low yield and “ugly” squat shape, it hasn’t been attractive in modern mango cultivation but it’s still one of the most coveted and hard to find fruits in India.
Come With Your Inquisitive Mind, Leave With Mango Expertise!
Summertime screams mango. As the Mexican mango season blossoms in the peak of our summer, we begin to crave more and more of this sweet, perfumy fruit. Despite mango being the most widely consumed fruit in the world, it is one of the most intimidating in our kitchens. This hands-on class takes the pressure off, teaching the basics and beyond of all things mango. From selection to storage advice, to the best cutting techniques for your skill level (including kids). The class will cover a gamut of simple, yet tantalizing recipes, yielding several more ideas and kitchen tips to use all summer long. There will be plenty of mango nutritional wisdom offered and juicy tidbits of grower and agricultural knowledge. You will walk away with the sweetest ideas for your summer #MangoMania, as well as a case of organic mangoes in hand, thanks to Earl’s Organic and Crespo Organic Mangoes!
Under The Mango Tree is a sweet spot, where I, a long time mango industry crackerjack, share everything I know. A place to find mango centric, agricultural, food and culture knowledge and a few juicy industry secrets and lies.