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Tropical Fruit Mango

Pubdate:2009-05-31

 

Immature Mango Fruit

  The mango (plural mangoes or mangos) is a tropical fruit of the mango tree. Mangoes belong to the genus Mangifera which consists of about 30 species of tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The exact origins of the mango are unknown, but most believe that it is native to Southern and Southeast Asia including the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh owing to the wide range of genetic diversity in the region and fossil records dating back 25 to 30 million years.[1]

  Mangos retain a special significance in the culture of South Asia where they have been cultivated for millennia. It has been the national symbol of the Philippines. Reference to mangoes as the "food of the gods" can be found in the Hindu Vedas and the leaves are ritually used for floral decorations at Hindu marriages and religious ceremonies.

  Etymology

  The name of the fruit comes from the Tamil and Malayalam word manga and was popularized by the Portuguese after their Indian exploration, hence the word 'manga' in Portuguese.

  Description

  Mango trees ( Mangifera indica ) are large, reaching 35-40 m in height, with a crown radius of 10 m. The leaves are evergreen, alternate, simple, 15-35 cm long and 6-16 cm broad; when the leaves are young they are orange-pink, rapidly changing to a dark glossy red, then dark green as they mature. The flowers are produced in terminal panicles 10-40 cm long; each flower is small and white with five petals 5-10 mm long, with a mild sweet odor suggestive of lily of the valley. After the flowers finish, the fruit takes from three to six months to ripen.

  The mango fruit is a drupe; when mature, it hangs from the tree on long stems. They are variable in size, from 10-25 cm long and 7-12 cm diameter, and may weigh up to 2.5 kg. The ripe fruit is variably colored yellow, orange and red, reddest on the side facing the sun and yellow where shaded; green usually indicates that the fruit is not yet ripe, but this depends on the cultivar. When ripe, the unpeeled fruit gives off a distinctive resinous slightly sweet smell. In the center of the fruit is a single flat, oblong seed (as big as a large stone) that can be fibrous or hairless on the surface, depending on cultivar. Inside the shell, which is 1-2 mm thick, is a paper-thin lining covering a single seed, 4-7 cm long, 3-4 cm wide, 1 cm thick.

  Cultivation and uses

  The mango is now widely cultivated as a fruit tree in frost-free tropical and warmer subtropical climates throughout the Indian subcontinent, Southern Pakistan, North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, south and central Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia. It is easily cultivated and there are now more than 1,000 cultivars, ranging from the turpentine mango (from the strong taste of turpentine, which according to the Oxford Companion to Food some varieties actually contain) to the huevos de toro ("bull's balls", from the shape and size). The mango is reputed to be the most commonly eaten fresh fruit worldwide. Mangos also readily naturalize in tropical climates. Some lowland forests in the Hawaiian Islands are dominated by introduced mangos and it is a common backyard fruit tree in South Florida where it has also escaped from cultivation.

  The mango is a popular fruit with people around the world. However, many mango farmers receive a low price for their produce. This has led to mangoes being available as a 'fair trade' item in some countries.

  There is a unique pigment that cannot be synthesized called euxanthin or euxanthine, and usually known as Indian Yellow, which is produced in the urine of cows fed on mango leaves. Their urine was once collected and evaporated and the pigment then used in oil paint.[2] The practice was outlawed in 1908 due to malnutrition of the cows (the leaves have a mildly toxic substance related to that in poison ivy) and the color is now produced synthetically by mixing other pigments.

  

Mango tree with flowers

  Usage as food

  The fruit flesh of a ripe mango contains about 15% sugar, up to 1% protein, and significant amounts of vitamins A, B and C. The taste of the fruit is very sweet, with some cultivars having a slight acidic tang; it tastes roughly like a cross between a peach and a pineapple. The texture of the flesh varies markedly between different cultivars; some have quite a soft and pulpy texture similar to an over-ripe plum, while others have a firmer flesh much like that of a cantaloupe or avocado, and in some cultivars the flesh can contain fibrous material. Mangoes are very juicy; the sweet taste and high water content make them refreshing to eat, though somewhat messy.

  Mangoes are widely used in chutney, which in the West is often very sweet, but in the Indian subcontinent is usually sharpened with hot chilis or limes. In India, ripe mango is often cut into thin layers, desiccated , folded, and then cut and sold as bars that are very chewy. These bars, known as amavat or halva in Hindi, are similar to dried guava fruit bars available in Colombia. Many people like to eat unripe mangoes with salt (which are extremely sour; much more than lemon), and in regions where food is hotter, with salt and chili. In many American societies people enjoy eating the skin of the mango which happens to be rich in calcium, and vitamin B6.

  The fruit is also widely used as a key ingredient in a variety of cereal products, in particular muesli and oat granola.

  In the Philippines, unripe mango is eaten with bagoong. Dried strips of sweet, ripe mangoes have also gained popularity both inside and outside the country, with those produced in Cebu making it to export markets around the world.

  In other parts of South-east Asia, mangos are very popular pickled with fish sauce and rice vinegar.

  Mango is also used to make juices, both in ripe and unripe form. Pieces of fruit can be mashed and used in ice cream; they can be substituted for peaches in a peach (now mango) pie; or put in a blender with milk, a little sugar, and crushed ice for a refreshing beverage. A more traditional Indian drink is mango lassi, which is similar, but uses a mixture of yogurt and milk as the base, and is sometimes flavoured with salt or cardamom. In Thailand and other South East Asian countries, sweet glutinous rice is flavoured with coconut then served with sliced mango on top as a dessert.

  "Mango Shake" or "Mangoshake" is a refreshing Punjabi (Indian/Pakistani) summer drink. It is traditionally made of mango pulp, whole milk, sugar and ice cubes. However there are various other ingredients which are sometimes added, such as ice cream, fresh fruit, chocolate sauce and other sauces, along with whipped cream. It is very similar to a milkshake which can be consumed with a spoon.

  Dried unripe mango used as a spice in India is known as amchur (sometimes spelled amchoor). Am is a Hindi word for Mango and amchoor is nothing but powder or extract of Mango.

  Note: The Sweet Bell Pepper (capsicum) was once known as mango in parts of the midwestern United States [3] With the advent of fresh fruit importers exposing individuals to the tropical fruit, the colloquial use of this alternative name for the Sweet Bell Pepper has become archaic, although occasionally midwestern menus will still offer stuffed mangoes as an entree.

  Medicinal properties

  The mango is in the same family as poison ivy and contains urushiol, though much less than poison ivy. Some people get dermatitis from touching mango peel or sap. Persons showing an allergic reaction after handling a mango can usually enjoy the fruit if someone else first removes the skin. The leaves are toxic to cattle.

  Cultural context

  Mango leaves are used to decorate the entrance of a household amongst Hindus. Mango leaves are also used in Indian prayers (poojas) to propitiate the gods. The mango is also a common motif in Indian textiles, known as the paisley design.

  Production and consumption

  India is by far the largest producer, with an area of 16,000 km? with an annual production of 10.8 million tonnes, which accounted for 57.18% of the total world production. Within India, the southern state of Andhra Pradesh is the largest producer of Mangoes, with 350,000 hectares under cultivation (2004 data).

  Langra and Himsagar are considered as the two most superior type of mangoes in India. Both of these varieties are produced in East and North India, especially in Uttar Pradesh state. The main production of Langra happens in a small town of West Bengal, Malda. Both of these varieties are not suitable for long preservation and thus not suitable for transport to long distances or export. The variety Alphonso is consider the most superior variety of mango. It is grown exclusively in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. This has become the mango that is generally used for export. Alphonso is named after Afonso De Albuquerque. This was an exquisite and expensive variety of mango, that he used to bring on his journeys to Goa. The locals took to calling it Aphoos in Konkani and in Maharashtra the pronunciation got further corrupted to Hapoos. This variety then was taken to the Konkan region of Maharashtra and other parts of India. Banganapalli from Andhra Pradesh, Ratnagiri and Devgad Hapoos from Maharashtra are among the most prized varieties in south India. Lucknow and Varanasi Mangoes are prized in the north of the country, where Uttar Pradesh state dominates the production tables. Certain Mango varieties are picked raw and turned into spicy pickles. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka states in the south, and Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh in the north are major producers of pickle-variety mangoes and specialize in making a variety of mango pickles. These pickles can be very spicy, and tend to have large regional differences in taste.

  Generally, once ripe, mangoes are quite juicy and can be very messy to eat. However, those exported to temperate regions are, like most tropical fruit, picked under-ripe. Although they are ethylene producers and ripen in transit, they do not have the same juiciness or flavour as the fresh fruit. A ripe mango will have an orange-yellow or reddish skin. To allow a mango to continue to ripen after purchase, it should be stored in a cool, dark place, but not in a refrigerator as this will slow the ripening process.

  Native green mangoes from the PhilippinesRipe mangoes are extremely popular throughout Latin America. In Mexico, sliced mango is eaten with chili powder and/or salt. Street vendors sometimes sell whole mangoes on a stick, dipped in the chili-salt mixture. In Indonesia, green mango is sold by street vendors with sugar and salt and/or chili. Green mango may be used in the sour salad called rujak in Indonesia, and rojak in Malaysia and Singapore. In Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Honduras, small, green mangoes are popular; they have a sharp, brisk flavour like a Granny Smith apple. Vendors sell slices of peeled green mango on the streets of these countries, often served with salt. In Hawai'i it is common to pickle green mango slices. Ayurveda considers ripe mango sweet and heating, balancing all the three doshas(humors) and acts as an energizer.

  Raw mangoes are used in making pickles and condiments due to its peculiar sweet and sour taste. Dried and powdered raw mango is sometimes also used as a condiment in Indian cuisine.

  Cultivars

  Many hundreds of named mango cultivars exist. In mango orchards, several cultivars are often intermixed to improve cross-pollination. In Maharashtra, the most common cultivar is Alphonso (known in Asia under the original name, Hapoos). Alphonso is very popular outside Indian subcontinent and one of the important export product of India. The best Alphonso mangos are reputed to come from the town of Ratnagiri and Devgad in Maharashtra. In Uttar Pradesh, Dasheri from Lucknow is famous for its aroma. Langra from Varanasi in eastern UP is another variety which is extremely sought after for its fine flavour and aroma, but is not suitable for export because of the perishable nature. Banganapalli (also called Banesha or Began Phali) of Andhra Pradesh is one of the most sought after cultivars. Maldah is one of the most sought after cultivars in Bihar. Notably, cultivars which excel in one climate fail to achieve their potential in other climates. Thus the cultivar Julie, a Jamaican favourite, and Alphonso have never found great success in South Florida, Israel or Australia.

  Currently, the world market is dominated by the cultivar Tommy Atkins, a seedling of Haden which first fruited in 1940 in Southern Florida, USA. Despite being initially rejected commercially by Florida researchers[citation needed], Tommy Atkins quickly became an export favourite worldwide. For example, 80% of mangos in UK supermarkets are Tommy Atkins. Despite its fibrous flesh and fair taste, growers world-wide have embraced the cultivar for its exceptional production and disease resistance, the shelf-life of its fruit, their transportability as well as their size and beautiful color. Tommy Atkins is predominant in the USA as well, although other cultivars, such Kent, Keitt, the Haitian grown Madame Francis and the Mexican grown Champagne are widely available.

  In urban areas of southern Florida, small gardens, or lack thereof, have fueled the desire for dwarf Mango trees. The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has led the charge for the "condo mango" by identifying cultivars which can be productive while maintained at a height below 2-2.5 m.[citation needed]