Food Box

Mangoes on display at the 2011 Mangoes at the Moana event in Honolulu.
Image: Wanda A. Adams

Expect a good year for mangoes

Get the Shoyu Ready

Speculatively eyeing the rock-hard green ovals, mango lovers are asking each other. “Is it just me, or is this going to be a great mango year?”

The answer is yes.

Actually, I was taking mango to market in January and February,” said Mark Suiso of Makaha Mangoes, a grower and grower representative. “Mango often alternates years, especially Haden (an island favorite). Last year, a drought was followed by overly heavy rains, encouraged greenery, but not flowers.” This year, in contrast, it stayed dry and cool early on, flowering came before the storms, giving fruit time to develop.

Over in Kona, grower and tropical fruit advocate Ken Love said he is already seeing people picking green mango (mouth-puckeringly delicious dipped in shoyu and sugar) with “two-story bamboo mango poles! We’ve all been going through mango pickle withdrawal.”

Any mango can be eaten green, as for Thai mango salad, or in a pickle, but some varieties, especially Southeast Asian varieties, may be grown with just that in mind.

Best known in the Islands as a summer fruit, different varieties mature at different times and growers are working on planting varieties to blossom throughout the year. A variety that’s getting a lot of traction among home growers is Rapoza, because it’s a smaller tree and can be kept as a dwarf if carefully pruned. Also popular at Big Island farmer’s markets: Golden Glow and R2E2 (aka Kona King), Love said.

Said Suiso: “A productive mango tree is something to be cherished. I tell people it should be treated like a member of the family. I love it when people share their fruit. It seems so pono.”

Mangoes at the Moana, July 21, Moana Hotel, Waikiki. Mango recipe and mango fruit competitions, cooking demonstrations, chef mango cook-off, food and craft booths. [Moana-Surfrider.com]; 922-3111. (Watch for news later in summer; no specifics available yet.)