What’s the Alphonso story?
Summer season or colloquially, mango season is a time when even those people who do not really like fruits are immensely attracted to mangoes. Whether it’s the taste or fragrance or shape, no one really understands the reason that makes mangoes so popular. But what cannot be denied is the fact that mangoes are called King of Fruits for a reason, no one can escape from its charm.
Amongst all varieties of mangoes, Alphonso or the Hapus is the most loved one. A favourite amongst grandmothers of Indian households and chefs of well-known restaurants, this mango has a much humble and a bit of foreign origin.
According to agricultural scientist, Dr. Nene, the traditional varieties of mango in India were the sucking types and mostly preferred by Indians because of its soft pulp and the ability to be squeezed by hands itself.
He believes that it was a group of Jesuit priests who first experimented and grafted mangoes in Goa between 1550 and 1575 CE. This was driven by the demands of the Portuguese who wanted mangoes not for sucking but to be cut into slices and placed on the table. Or what they liked to refer to as ‘more civilized manner'.
Survival of the best: In reality, Alphonso mango was not the only variety that was cultivated. A number of fruits with Portuguese name like Rebello, Fernandina etc were cultivated. Just that the Alphonso happened to survive. Although started in Goa, the grafting practices spread to Western India and that is where the famous Ratnagiri mangoes and Devgad mangoes came to being.
To be more historically accurate, Alphonso mangoes are actually named after Alfonso de Alberquque, the man who conquered Goa.
When it comes to Alphonso mangoes, there are varieties grown across the Western region. The best and the most expensive ones are grown in plantations of Ratnagiri. In fact, the Ratnagiri mangoes are considered to be so good that they were shipped to London in 1953 for the Queen’s coronation from Mumbai’s legendary Crawford market.
The Alphonso mangoes are so specific to a particular region in terms of taste, cost and popularity that it has now gained the GI tag. The Alphonso mango from Ratnagiri, Sindhugurg and adjoining Konkan region has been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, an exclusive label used for products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation that are due to that region.
Such is the demand and love for Alphonso mangoes that a few sellers have come up with non- seasonal varieties. However, these mangoes are chemically inflated, less pulpy and more dangerous to health.
In order to not fall prey to these phony mangoes, make sure that the Alphonso mangoes you order are organic ones. The ones which are cultivated without any chemicals and pesticides, retaining all of their natural glory.
You can shop for the organic variety of Alphonso mangoes from OrgPick, your friendly, neighbourhood, organic food delivery service.