Mango in Jamaica is no less significant than ackee and breadfruit. It arrived pretty much the same way. We boast a wide variety of mangoes in Jamaica, some having multiple names depending on where on the island you are by, their size (John Belly Full, big mango), texture (Stringy), colour (Green Gauge/Skin), shape (Bull Seed), flavour (sweetie) or origin (East Indian). Across Jamaica, it could be argued that mangos grow like a wild plant, easy to grow, abundantly populated, and produces a succulent honey like fruit boasting high regards globally. Gastronomy looks at mango and its potential for sustainability and economics.
Mango trees grow quickly with little or no care; plants are enormous and can produce hundreds of pounds. As a Chef, I have used it in many ways, shape and form, chutney, puree, dried, fresh, juice/ concentrate, to name a few. It boasts much versatility in partnership with jerk (mango Jerk sauce), BBQ (mango BBQ sauce and mango ketchup, etc.), and pastry (mango cheesecake), to name a few, and I will save its nutritional value for another post. In my home town, Southfield to Treasure Beach area during a mango crop, one would weep to see such a waste. I freeze what I can for the “crop over”, but what about you and parts of the world that desires it and cultivation is not conducive for this mouth-watering, celebrated fruit with an appeal that makes you fall in love with it.
The financial opportunities are as rich as the mangoes themselves; one could argue that it’s like picking money from a tree. The production cost is low, and except for its seasonality, it just keeps going. Mangoes, like other fruits, can be preserved in a variety of ways and made available for sale year-round. We should maximize its use locally and capitalize on markets needing the product in various ways, shapes, or forms.
Randie Anderson Executive Chef, CEC, CCA,WCEC, MSc Gastronomic Tourism.
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