When I first came across the Mango Nectarine, I felt David Byrne of Talking Heads fame well up within me. I couldn’t help but ask the big lyrical questions: “Am I finding myself in a hot-sun snack? Am I in another part of the world? Am I behind the wheel of a smooth taste-mobile? Is this a beautiful fruit with a beautiful slice? Hey—how did this Mango Nectarine get here?” I didn’t want to let the days go by without understanding more so here it is. . .
The Mango Nectarine (that pale yellow nectarine in the Harvest Flyer boxes this week) has a wonderfully unique texture and taste. When ripe, it is rich and soft like a mango that melts on your tongue and lingers with a demure honey-perfumed flavor. They are best when they begin to soften to the touch.
What is this Fruit? Where Does it Come From? How is it Grown?
The Mango Nectarine is a cross of nectarine “sports.” A “sport” is a naturally-occurring abnormality in fruit trees. Grower David Kamada from Ito Fruit Company said: “We see one sport in every 40 acres of our trees. You may get one branch that throws off a new variety. When we find it in our orchard, we mark it and then try to propagate it to see if it is something worth keeping.” Growing a new variety takes two paths, grafting or budding. In the spring, growers can take a bud from a new sport and put it onto a new limb of a tree. Grafting is a similar process which happens when the tree is dormant in winter.
The Mango Nectarine is believed to be a cross of two old-variety pale nectarine sports. Early California nectarines were green-skinned and white-fleshed. They were small but produced sweet-tasting varieties like the John Rivers, Gower, and Quetta. The look of the modern red-skinned nectarine came about in 1942 when Fred W. Anderson of Le Grand, California, introduced the Le Grand Nectarine. Since then, nectarines have been grown for deeper red color and larger sizes.
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