A Choice of Two Mangoes
All the year round, supermarkets sell a similar type of mango that is sweet, plump, reliable and well-priced. The main varieties are Kent and Keitt, often referred to as ‘Florida varieties’ due to their origin. They are now grown in large volumes in Central and South America, the Caribbean and West Africa. The trade in these varieties has become more and more sophisticated over the years, with many of the inconsistencies in maturity and eating quality being solved, while keeping up a supply of low-cost fruit throughout the year. Over the last decade, the growers, shippers and importers of these varieties can be credited with turning mangoes from an exotic and little-understood fruit, into one that is familiar and commonly found in our fruit bowls. They should be applauded for their work.
Unfortunately, what we save in pennies and gain in reliability, we often lose in flavour, and Kent and Keitt are no exception. These varieties have been selected because they can be harvested in a condition that will survive a 2-3 week voyage by sea (to keep transport costs down), and still ripen to the satisfaction of most consumers. Sweetness and succulence can usually be guaranteed, but the delectable tropical aroma and flavour of a good mango is often missing. That is not to denigrate the varieties entirely, as at the peak of their season or if harvested later for less time-consuming journeys to market (such as air-freight), they do have an attractive flavour as well as the sweetness.
In our summer, however, we also have a choice of deliciously flavoursome South and South-East Asian mangoes, followed later in July by some unique varieties from Mediterranean countries.
Mangoes originated in the Indian sub-continent, where there are literally hundreds of varieties, with a few of the best attaining almost legendary status. Largely thanks to the descendants of Indian and Pakistani immigrants, these wonderful varieties are imported into UK by air, to satisfy their yearning for tastes of the old country.
Until recently, mangoes from India and Pakistan were only sold in Asian grocery stores, so an enthusiast would have to venture into, for many, unfamiliar territory to find a box. However, over the last three or four years, Asda, Tesco and Morrisons have started selling Pakistani mangoes, and this year, for the first time, Tesco are stocking Indian mangoes. This is great news as these varieties are so delicious that they deserve a wider following in this country.
The varieties to look out for are:
March to August: Nam Dok Mae from Thailand
Late April to June: Indian Kesar, Alphonse and Badami
Early June to July: Sindhri and Chausna from Pakistan
- Nam Dok Mae is the smoothest, silkiest of mangoes, and has a lovely fragrance;
- Kesar and Alphonse are smallish mangoes, visually unappealing, but packed with flavour and sweetness in their orange flesh;
- Badami is a lighter coloured mango, slightly firm and with a distinct perfumed fragrance;
- Sindhri and Chausna are intensely sweet and reasonably fleshy fruit with a distinctive depth of flavour.
©Good Fruit Guide 2016. Recommendations on fruit varieties and types with the very best taste are personal to the editor of Good Fruit Guide, and do not attempt to be exhaustive or supported by verifiable consumer research. The highlighting of fruit with the very best taste in the opinion of the editor is not intended as a judgement on the taste of varieties and types of fruit not mentioned.