The mango: new varieties and uses

The mango: new varieties and uses
  • From salads to alcoholic drinks, the Malaga mango extends its season with new varieties and new products

If we look back fifty years or so, apart from the last of the figs and the first winter tangerines there were only pomegranates, quinces and a few strawberries to brighten up the fruit bowl. Now from mid-summer until late autumn we can enjoy one of the world's most prized fruits, the mango.

The mango (Mangifera indica), which still grows wild in the forests of Myanmar and eastern India, is a relative of the cashew nut but whereas the outer pulp of the cashew is discarded, the mango is prized for its sweet, juicy flesh, which is pleasantly aromatic and an attractive yellowy orange in colour.

The mango became popular in the West due to the British who fell in love with the fruit in colonial India and extended its cultivation to the US and Australia. The Americans developed selected strains with less fibre and a better balance between acidity and sweetness. From the 1950s onwards, these were planted in the Canary Islands and in the 1980s on the Iberian Peninsula, specifically in the Axarquía (today Europe's leading producing region), and on the tropical coast of Granada, where climatic conditions were ideal for production.

Today the crop in Malaga covers 4,300 hectares, and the production of around 361,000 tonnes reaches fourth place in sales in the EU, occupying most of the 'premium quality' segment.

The most cultivated mango varieties in Andalucía are the Osteen (80 per cent of total production), and the early Tommy Atkins (from beginning to end of September), followed by the Kent variety (available between late September and early November) and Keitt, the later variety, with fruits that ripen between mid-October and December. Other varieties that are being successfully marketed are the delicious Irwin, with smaller fruits (350g). In Malaga, the sector is now dedicated to the production of mangoes without a stone.

When buying the fruit it is worth remembering that a mango is green and red when it is unripe and very firm. When ripe, the colours red and yellow dominate the skin and the surface gives a little under gentle pressure.

Mangoes are in season at the moment and can be used to make ice-cream and smoothies, or added to savoury skewers. The pulp is high in pectin and is perfect for chutneys and jams and has the advantage of being so sweet not much sugar needs to be added.

Chopped mango also freezes well and can be kept for months sealed in bags in the freezer compartment.