The Mighty Mango Nectarine: July 5, 2005

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Mango nectarines are back in The FruitGuys Horn of Plenty crates this week. Their season is short – just a few weeks in late June and early July. The Mango Nectarine 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 unique fruit? Where does it come from? How is it grown?
The FruitGuys are one of the few suppliers in Northern California where you can find the Mango Nectarine. I called David Kamada, Vice President of ITO Packing– the fruit company in Reedley, California that grows and sells this very interesting nectarine.
The Mango Nectarine is a cross of nectarine “sports.” A “sport” is a naturally occurring abnormality in fruit trees. “We see one sport in every forty acres of our trees,” Mr. Kamada noted. “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 nectarine came about in 1942 when Fred W. Anderson of Le Grand, Calif., introduced the Le Grand Nectarine. Since then, nectarines have been grown for deeper red color and larger sizes.*
Enjoy the Mango Nectarine in this week’s crate and savor its flavor. Its pedigree is a great example of something new that is rooted in an heirloom tradition. *http://food.oregonstate.edu/faq/uffva/nectarine3.html

 

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