Today I would like to discuss the importance of fruits in our diet. I firmly believe that fruits are an essential component of our diet as they provide us with all the necessary nutrients for our physical health and growth. Additionally, all fruits hold a special place among us due to their gorgeous texture, appealing colors, enticing fragrances, and delicious flavor. However, I must confess that for me and many people in South Asia, mango is the king of all fruits. Mango, as a member of the Anacardiaceae (cashew) family and belonging to the genus Mangifera, has approximately 500 types worldwide, with around 350 varieties being farmed commercially. It is believed that mango originated in the tropical forests of Malaysia and Indonesia and spread worldwide from there. South Asia’s subcontinent, where mangoes are grown, is responsible for producing a substantial part of the world’s yearly mango crop.
Mango Trees: Varieties, Sizes, and Fascinating Facts
As I was learning about mango trees, I discovered that they come in various sizes, just like their fruit. It’s fascinating to know that native mango trees can grow up to 30 meters in height and have a spread of 4-5 meters. Being an evergreen tree, it remains green throughout the year, and during summers, it provides shelter to humans and animals in its shade. On the other hand, grafted mango trees are comparatively shorter, ranging from 3 to 15 meters in height. The trunk of the mango tree is thick, and its wood is soft, making it an ideal material for furniture and other products. Interestingly, wherever the trunk and branches of the tree are injured, sticky moisture comes out, and the glue freezes. This gum from the mango tree has medicinal properties and has been used for centuries in indigenous recipes to treat chapped skin.
When the mango tree blossoms in the spring, the atmosphere becomes fragrant with their sweet fragrance
We all know that bees play an essential role in our ecosystem. During the flowering season of the mango tree, bees extract honey from the sweet-smelling flowers. The flowering period of a mango tree is quite long, with many branches of flowers coming out from the tree’s branches instead of leaf buds. These central branches then produce small branches that make a big bunch, up to one foot in length. The entire process continues for about a month, during which new flowers keep blooming along with the growth of the branches. It is no wonder that bees make a large number of hives in mango orchards. The flowers themselves take more than two months to develop, grow and ripen, which provides bees with an opportunity to collect good honey during this period.
The Ripening Process and Popular Mango Varieties
The process of ripening a mango is just as important as the growth and development of the fruit itself. When the kernel inside the fruit is fully developed, the fruit is ready to ripen. Interestingly, the summer season’s heat is also at its peak at this time, which becomes helpful in producing juice and sweetness in the mango fruit. After the development of the fruits is complete, the Gardner takes the fruit from the tree and seals it well in wooden boxes, placing it in a safe place to ripen. This method ensures that the raw mango fruit becomes fully ripe and ready to eat in just 4 to 6 days.
Sindhri Mango – The King of Mangoes in South Asia
If you ask me, mangoes are the undisputed king of all fruits in South Asia. And if you had to choose one variety of mango to rule them all, the Sindhri mango would be the clear winner. The Sindhri mango has an oval shape and turns bright yellow when ripe, with a thin skin. It can grow up to 15-18 cm long and weigh anywhere from 400 to 500 grams, but sometimes even up to one kilogram. What makes the Sindhri mango stand out is its soft and juicy flesh that doesn’t spoil easily, giving it a reasonably long shelf life than other types of mangoes.
Interestingly, the Sindhri mango is also a symbol of the Sindh province in Pakistan, where it was first cultivated in Mirpur Khas at the beginning of the last century. Although Sindhri mango is cultivated in other regions of Pakistan, the highest quality fruit is found in Mirpur Khas and the taste just cannot be replicated elsewhere. The popularity of the Sindhri mango is evident from the fact that more than 60% of all mango varieties produced in Pakistan are Sindhri mangoes.
Mango – A Fruit Embedded in Subcontinental Culture
For more than 4 thousand years, the people of the subcontinent have had a special relationship with the mango, making it an integral part of their culture. This fruit is enjoyed by everyone regardless of their social status. In the past, houses were large and sparsely populated, and mango trees were often planted in their courtyards. The shade provided by the trees made them a popular spot for spending hot summer days, and children even hung swings from the sturdy branches. Planting a mango tree in the courtyard was not only practical for providing shade but also for enjoying the delicious fruit it produced.
The Versatility of the Mango Tree: From Fruits to Oil
Have you ever wondered why mango trees shed some of their fruits before they are ripe? As I discovered, this is nature’s way of protecting the tree from breakage due to the weight of the abundant fruits. In Urdu, these unripe fruits are called “Keri” and in Sindhi, they are known as “Ambrri”. Rather than going to waste, people use them in a variety of delicious ways. These unripe fruits are grated and mixed with peas, green chilies, mint, or coriander leaves to make a tasty chutney. They are also dried and ground to create Amchur, a sour spice commonly used in Indian and Pakistani cooking. Larger unripe fruits can be used to make pickles, jams, and sherbets, while the kernel of the mango seed produces up to 15% of the most valuable and useful oil. Not only is this oil edible, but it is also used in cosmetics and medicine. Every part of the mango tree, from the leaf to the pulp, is valuable and useful, making it a truly precious fruit.
Acknowledgment: The author acknowledges with gratitude the valuable contribution of Mir Altaf Hussain Talpur in the initial research and outline of the article, which formed the basis for the author’s subsequent editing, expansion, and rewriting endeavors. – Mir Atta Muhammad Talpur
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