Mango is India’s favourite fruit, and within the entire range of mangoes, Alphonso Mango is India’s favourite mango. Many Indians, young and old, love the Alphonso Mango for its amazing aroma and its superb taste.
As the season of the Alphonso Mango is short, Indians try to make the most of it by having it for breakfast, lunch, dinner as well as in desserts.
Mango is prone to cheating, and it is a challenge for people to identify the Real Devgad Alphonso Mango. However, it is not so difficult to know which one is the Original Alphonso Mango. We’ll understand how, but before we try to find out the real Alphonso Mango, let’s first understand what is Alphonso Mango.
Where did the Original Alphonso Mango come from?
Alphonso Mango is an Indian fruit, but it was born in India during the Portuguese rule which extended from 1505 to the 20th century. Portuguese were excellent gardeners, and they loved to experiment grafting between trees, which they continued to do in and around Goa, where their headquarters was. Portuguese were also ruling many other countries, and they traded many items among these countries. So their ships kept moving from country to country with different items on board. Saplings of fruit were also a part of it.
One day a Portuguese ship coming from Brazil docked in the Goa port, and it had some saplings of mango from Brazil. They weren’t of the Alphonso Mango, but the normal mango in Brazil. The original Alphonso Mango was yet to take birth. Now India by then had many varieties of mango. You see the botanical name of mango is Mangifera Indica where Indica stands for India. So the Portuguese gardeners saw this as a great opportunity and they grafted twigs from these Brazilian mango saplings onto the Indian mango trees.
A divine fruit is born
The Portuguese gardeners planted these grafts in their orchards at Goa, and these trees survived. Some years later they bore fruit, and the Portuguese realised they had created a masterpiece. Enthusiastically they planted the seeds of these fruits, but some years later they realised that the trees growing out of these seeds were bearing mangoes of random types, but not of Alphonso. Thus a divine fruit was born, which was not only the best one across the world, but was also so unique that it could only be grown through grafting.
Too many Alphonso Mangoes varieties.
Alphonso then went to many other areas from Goa. Since the fruit was so unique that it could only be grown through grafts, it also demonstrated another unique quality (called phenotypic plasticity) by which the taste, colour, aroma, and other qualities of Alphonso Mango changed as per the area that it was planted it. The best conditions for Alphonso Mango were found in a taluka along the Konkan Coast, which had the unique laterite rock structure in its land, and very less moisture content. But the phenotypic plasticity in Alphonso Mango gave rise to many varieties of mango, which look like the Alphonso Mango, but lack the core qualities that are seen in the Original Alphonso Mango.
So how to identify the Real Alphonso Mango?
- Original Alphonso Mango grows in Devgad Taluka in the Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra. The pure and real Alphonso Mango from Devgad gives a natural aroma that is noticeable from a distance. Even one mango kept in a room will fill the room with its aroma.
- Other varieties of Alphonso will not achieve this. A research article titled ‘Geographical variation in the flavour volatiles of Alphonso mango by scientists from National Chemical Laboratory, and published in the Food Chemistry Journal, (Volume 130, Issue 1, 1 January 2012, Pages 58-66) give scientific backing to this claim. The study states that the Alphonso variety grown in Devgad has the highest composition of aromatic compounds mesifuran, (Z)-ocimene and ?-octalactone and thus they are the major contributors to the Devgad Alphonso flavour.
- Mangoes grown in other areas look like Alphonso Mango either give no smell at all or give a very faint smell, where you need to press it hard on your nose to smell it. Chemically ripened mangoes do not give such aroma.
- Have a look at the mangoes. They should ‘look’ soft and touch soft if they are naturally ripened. Chemically ripened mangoes are yellow, yet hard.
- Observe the colour. Chemically ripened mangoes look uniformly coloured. Naturally ripened mangoes show gradients in yellows and green.
- Mangoes should not show wrinkles. Many people feel that if mangoes show wrinkles, they are good. The fact is that mangoes will show wrinkles if they are overripe. If mangoes are wrinkled, yet green, avoid them. This means they were harvested immature.