Generally jolly good orchard news, a sprinkle of bah humbug
& my best holiday mango recipes
Roberto Crespo, a member of the #HermanosCrespos “band” or what I consider the lead singer of our south, is currently and like usual, deeply rooted in the soils of Oaxaca and Chiapas preparing for the season start up. This week he is sharing some encouraging updates direct from our Mexican mango orchards down there, which feels like the best Christmas news ever! He sprinkles a little bah humbug on our festive mood, reporting of some serious wind currently swirling the orchards, noting it could be concerning for fruit supply farther into the season. I will report back with my usual New Year/ New Season Mexican Mango Predictions next week with more details from Roberto. Consider this just a little teaser of Christmas hope before we all break for the holiday. Today, I want mostly to sprinkle a bit of #MangoJoy on us for the Mexican mango season ahead with the scarcity of positive offshore organic mango news, I thought some flashes of good news would be a nice change.
Dates are set. We’re gearing up to open our Oaxacan packhouse, Bola de Oro, , on January 24th, 2024. Assuming we will be picking and packing in the same week and targeting mangoes in the USA before the 1st of February. Having a set date is, to me, clear evidence that fruit is on schedule. Following closely, Empaque Don Jorge II in Chiapas, is scheduled to open the week after, around February 1st, 2024.
Generally the weather has been favorable, there was good bloom and good bloomset, some storms, as we noted in our Thanksgiving crop update did some damage that will show itself more in some sporadic supply volumes, rather than gaps. Overall volume predictions for Crespo Organic feels very positive form the southern orchards. Size, quality and more specific details can’t be predicted until we inch closer to start. (Thus, the teaser!)
Sweet Varietal News
Ataulfo mangoes, as orchard tradition dictates, will be the initial varietal picked, packed and shipped. However, it’s worth noting one of our Oaxacan microregions known for early Tommy Atkins production is set to begin in its usual early fashion at the onset of of February.
Initial volumes, as usual, will be limited, with expectations for rapid growth week by week. Anticipate abundant Ataulfo volumes in mid-February, and for Tommy Atkins, late February, contingent on favorable weather conditions. Wind and heavy rains occurring in the next several weeks will dictate the details on volume and quality in weeks after start.
What to Watch For (Wind)
Weather is the utmost concern in the upcoming 3-4 weeks, with a keen eye on wind and rain. Winds have been very serious lately and winds knock down new blooms, creating gaps in supply tree per tree, orchard per orchard. Expect weekly crop updates as we approach the season kickoff. The End of December though mid January are notoriously windy and cold in Oaxaca in particular. Click here for a reminder about “La Ventosa”.
The southern regions are approximately 1400-1800 miles away from the border entry points of Nogales and McAllen. Filling empty pipelines takes considerable time, especially in a year where organic Peruvian fruit is exceptionally scarce. Our primary focus continues to be on establishing weekly repetitive mango programs that span from the season’s start to its end, through multiple seasons. Our priority remains serving the customers with whom we have built our business and those interested in joining our direct-trade system, fostering mutually beneficial relationships year after year.
Bah Humbug Notables
The lack of industry discussion about rising labor costs and the peso-dollar exchange rate is surprising, given their substantial impact on mango programs and Mexican exports in general. These factors, influencing production expenses and profit margins, underscore the need for strategic adaptations, close customer relationships, programs and planning and general innovation to ensure competitiveness and sustainability in the market. I would assume these two issues will be extremely relevant to the upcoming season.
The Real Mango BusinessNone of us would exist without the pleasurable sweet experience mangoes provide to eaters. People love mangoes for their sweet and juicy taste, versatile use in diverse dishes, and rich nutritional content. The tropical fruit’s global appeal, cultural significance, and refreshing nature make it a widely cherished favorite. Our mango expertise is nothing without consumers choosing mangoes, cutting them up and eating them and thus the Crespo Organic Kitchen continues to be committed, to delivering the most useful mango education, tips, tricks and recipes as part of our well-rounded program and as part of the mango expertise we offer…. from orchard to table!
Over the past decade, I’ve managed to carve remarkable alignment between my parallel culinary career and my work with mangoes. This fusion has proven immensely rewarding on a personal level. I consider my mango work on the culinary side both on the commodity education side as well as recipe and innovative idea contributions to be extremely valuable to consumers as well as pivotal in raising the bar for our industry in terms of consumer education which I believe to be of equal importance and recognize the direct connection to farmer and farming community success. Balancing these two worlds has not been easy, yet here I am. So, as a token of appreciation for those who’ve read this far, here’s a small Christmas gift—a source of inspiration and a reminder of the boundless possibilities within the realm of mangoes and holidays! And I promise mangoes are not just shoved into regular recipes, these are thoughtful, generally easy to recreate (must have good mangoes!) and showcase all the beautiful nuanced flavors of mangoes.
Merry Christmas/Feliz Navidad! May your home be warm and sweet!
Mango Eggnog & Coquito (Reindeer Games)
My love for kitchen challenges, as often mentioned in my blog posts, doesn’t involve forcing mangoes into holiday recipes. A few years back while concocting my famed Middle Eastern Eggnog, inspiration struck to add mangoes to this festive creamy drink. This revelation, spiraled further and extended into Coquito, a traditional Puerto Rican delight. It’s a topical twist on old favorites, mangoes contributing a more fruity depth that feels quite natural.
Mango Milk Punch & Pechuga (Mexican Christmas Milk Punch)
About 30 years ago, during my college days studying politics in Cuernavaca, Mexico, I had my first encounter with Pechuga, a unique type of mezcal when then-governor of Morelos introduced me to this celebratory spirit, traditionally made by adding raw chicken or turkey breast, along with a medley of botanicals, herbs, and spices, during distillation. Last year I was gifted a bottle of Tlamati Deer Pechuga from the small cooperative Tlamati Spirits in Puebla, I decided to share it with friends in a Christmas Mole and Tamale celebration. Despite conventional advice to enjoy Pechuga straight, I crafted a cocktail recipe, a mango-centric one of course, blending the potent spirit with mango to showcase its unique smoky and savory nuances. The bottle embodies traditional and indigenous mezcal production methods, connecting the essence of producers with consumers and reflecting the real identity of each of us. A milk punch recipe was the result of this endeavor and its good! There is also a lot to learn in this post.
Tropical Holiday Rugalach (Hanukah and Beyond)
These are treats for the holidays that you will want to make all year long. Rugelach, Yiddish for little twists, are one of the easiest, most versatile sweet cookie-pastries you will ever know. It started out as a fluffy pastry and morphed into a cookie as the recipe immigrated along with it’s Jewish carriers to the USA. It’s an easy recipe with very forgiving dough and a great holiday cookie. Adding mangoes to this one was simple and felt natural. Plus you get to use one of my favorite recipes for mangoes in the winter—making mango jam. These cookies are quite addictive, so beware.
Vanilla Smoked Mango Jam Brie Puff Present (Smoking Mangoes)
Venturing into the world of stovetop smoking one holiday season, I embraced the idea of Vanilla Smoked Mango Jam Brie Puff Presents. Utilizing dried Madagascar vanilla beans and fine alder wood chips as the smoking foundation, which I did on my stove top I might ad using a wok, I enhance the smoky aromatic experience with cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon, complementing the earthy essence of the alder as I infuse the mangoes with this perfumed smoke. I then wrapped the resulting mango jam, which was smothered over brie in puff pastry and baked it into a gooey delicious appetizer. The result is something guests get to unwrap with a knife and fork. You can use regular mango jam too!
Christmas Tamales (Nissa’s Christmas Mole & Tamales- My Herbal Roots)
I am a master in the art of mole-making, my Latin American roots and my general nature influences my approach to embodying the essence of mole; a continuously evolving dish—a melting pot of ideas and concepts. Mole, with its complex and contentious history dating back to pre-Hispanic Mexico, has no fixed recipe, much like my cooking philosophy. In this article, posted on my herb blog, I explore the intricacies of mole and share my mango mole recipe, a slightly sweeter mole colorado twist, enriched with herbs, spices, and smoky chilies. My mango mole is Ideal for n tamales. This celebratory mole, though time-intensive, is a gratifying process that symbolizes the joy of sharing my flavors and techniques in each delightful bite. This mango mole is elevated with our Crespo Organic Dried Ataulfo Mangoes, which I am very proud of making it truly special.
Buche de Noel (Mango Yule Log Cake)
Throughout my multi-decade culinary journey, Martha Stewart has been my steadfast recipe guide, providing reliability and inspiration. While perusing my collection of physical Martha Stewart Living Magazines years back, I stumbled upon her Coffee-Caramel Swiss Roll recipe, which sparked an idea of what is now my Mango Yule Log Cake. Adapting Martha’s sponge cake and incorporating a more citrus tone, adding lime zest and a mango-pit lime syrup and a combination of vanilla whipped cream and citrusy mango curd. With a nod to Martha’s foolproof recipes, I tweaked her marshmallow meringue technique, infusing it with a hint of mango flavor. All rolled up and log decorated! This is my mango ode to Martha, a celebration of her impact on my culinary endeavors.