The furtive aroma of the great Indian Alphonso Mango

The furtive aroma of the great Indian Alphonso Mango

The most characteristic quality about Indian mango, specifically for the Alphonso mango is the aroma. It is this quality that makes this Indian mango so distinct and different from any other variety found around the world. The credit for this unique smell can to great extend be given to the soil and then to the climatic conditions which help in giving mango their unique aroma.
The Alphonso mango from Ratnagiri is most loved for its exotic sweet taste and equally exotic aroma. Ratnagiri is a port city on the Arabian Sea coast in Ratnagiri District in Maharashtra, India. The fruit finds a perfect home in the Konkan strip of western coastal stretch of India where the fertile alluvial soil nourishes them to abundance and produces the most authentic Alphonso. Apart from its deep sweet taste, the Alphonso mango is cherished for its tender texture, devoid of any fiber and aromatic flesh.
The distinctive aroma and flavour of Indian mango is rendered by the presence of various volatile organic chemicals mainly belonging to terpene, furanone, lactone and ester classes. The presence of monoterpenes, “Myrcene” and “(Z)-ocimene” and “Lactones” and “Furanones” provides a very distinctive, vibrant, multi-facet aroma and flavour to Indian mango cultivars, specifically the Alphonso mangoes.
The lactones and furanones present in Alphonso mango are synthesized while ripening. However, terpenes and the other flavourants exist in immature as well as ripened fruits. The monoterpene, “myrcene” is found in ripened Alphonso mango and is the reason for the citrusy, woodsy and fruity aroma of Alphonso and other species like lemongrass, hops, Indian bay tree, cannabis and verbena. At Shimla Hills, we never use artificial ripening methodologies to ensure that the “myrcene” stays intact and so does the natural aroma of the mango.
Interestingly, terpenes like myrcene were evolved by plants to lure certain favourable insects and prevent animals from grazing. However, human beings being a much evolved, higher species had an evolutionary ability to not be adversely affected by these chemicals, by moderating their ability to be assimilated in our bodies. The only effect these chemicals have on our system is that they magnify the euphoric effect of cannabis and other similar recreational drugs. So next time do eat a mango before you smoke marijuana to boost the level of high!

Mango’s sweet taste is finding a place in western markets

Indian mango pulp

Mangoes are about 50% of the total tropical fruits grown worldwide. Since 1990, the market for mango pulp grew exponentially which is expected to continue. India is the leader among major mango growers with widely recognized variety of mangoes (primarily Alphonso, Totapuri and Kesar) being used in the manufacturing of pulp.

India accounts for contributing approximately 67 percent of the total world export when it comes to processed mango product. That is almost half of the world production of mangoes. The bulk of this share goes to Middle East followed by Southeast Asia and North America.

Mango pulp is used as a major food ingredient in the making of mango juice, nectars, juice blends, dairy, bakery, baby food manufacturing, ice-creams etc. However, in recent years the popularity of mango has spread to the western markets with consumers showing interest in the taste. The US juice industry and fresh market has shown consistent interest in both fresh mango and its processed products. The US juice industry has been making more and more use of mango pulp in its orange juice blends.

The popularity for mango in the US market can be attributed to two reasons. Firstly, mango is new for the US consumers, who have begun to develop a taste for it. Secondly, the US orange juice industry has been blending mango pulp for it natural sweet content that balances the acidity in orange juice. The most widely consumed fruit juice in the US is orange. And because of this widespread popularity of orange juice, its annual demand crosses approximately 500,000 MT. If one goes by the estimates, then the demand for the mango pulp used in this blending process in the coming years will only going to increase.

 

Indian Pomegranate Farms: Demystified

Indian Pomegranate Farms: Demystified

Last fortnight I had one of my most memorable trips to one our pomegranate farms in Nashik  near Maharashtra, India. En-route to the farms I captured the glimpse of rustic villages and their simple life which is slowing transforming by the touch of technology.

 

After travelling for few hours we stopped at a small local eatery to have light refreshments. The best part about Indian food is its flavour and diversity which you tend to get everywhere. I had a choice between ‘vada pav’ (a Maharashtrian snack, you can imagine it as an Indian burger) and ‘paratha’ (a flatbread, stuffed with spicy mixture). I chose paratha, but was advised to eat vada pav because it absorbs less oil as they are fried on the surface. This was an interesting discovery to me as I always thought Indian deep fried foods absorb excessive oil and thus calories. However the beauty of Indian deep frying mechanism is that the food is not required to be completely immersed in the oil for frying as surface frying facilitates the formation of crisp.

 

The pomegranate farms fascinated me the most. Awesome! It was the first word that struck me after I saw the exquisite sight of deep red poms, hanging precariously from the stems of pomegranate shrubs, ready for harvest. All excited, I started roaming around the farms. Intrigued by my apparent amazement, a farmer approached to have a talk with me. I too got interested when he started narrating facts-after-facts about pomegranate farming and the prized Bhagwa variety.

 

The Bhagwa variety of pomegranate is soft seeded, has extremely succulent taste and a rich, deep-red colour. This makes them far more superior to the ones grown in Spain, Israel and Iran from where it originated. It is also a highly relished fruit in Europe.

 

The farmer plucked one pomegranate from the nearby shrub for me to taste. It was absolutely farm fresh and weighed more than half a kilogram. I crack opened the pom and pulled a handful of luscious pomegranate arils, popped them into my mouth and munched them for a good time. Goodness, they were the most juicy and tasty pomegranate arils tasted in years.

 

The most noteworthy mention in our entire discussions was that of GAP (Good Agricultural Practices). It is a revolutionary farming system which has not only ensured that food is produced and handled with minimum contamination on the farms, but also increases the quality and yield, very cost effectively.

 

In addition to tying-up with GAP certified farmers and voluntarily following GAP for quite some time, Shimla Hills’ team has also been helping other farmers understand and implement the techniques of GAP. In fact, by following GAP, the yield of pomegranate has increased from usual benchmark of 15-18 kg to 20-25 kg from single shrub, which is remarkable.

 

Pom Farm

 

The farmer explained to me further few parameters that made GAP such a huge success like the use of disease free and superior plant material of improved cultivars, timely adoption of IPM practices to control pests and diseases, maintaining proper load of fruits on the tree and integrating various other managements.

 

The new farming systems are forging a new beginning for farmers. These new systems are lending innovations that are reaping benefits and prosperity for their strenuous hard work. I was happy to find another farmer cultivating a fruit that was a hybrid of apple and Indian Jujube (also known as Ber, Chinee Apple, Jujube, Indian plum and Masau). Amazing, it was indeed a trip that I will cherish forever!