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Fairchild’s Mango Festival features mangos of Mexico

Mango slices.
Mango slices.
© 2011 George Leposky

Mexican mangos will take center stage at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s 21st annual International Mango Festival on Saturday, July 13, and Sunday, July 14, 2013.

A Kent mango from South Florida.
© 2012 George Leposky

Mangos from Mexico deserve the attention. Two-thirds of the mangos imported to the U.S. come from Mexico, according to the Mangos From Mexico Packer and Exporter Association (EMEX)

Although we south Floridians are accustomed to homegrown mangos – especially at this time of year when we seem to be drowning in them – most mangos consumed elsewhere in the U.S. come from beyond our country’s borders. Mexico is our leading suppler because it’s closest to us. Shorter transport times and distances mean the growers can let the mangos ripen longer on the trees, making them extra sweet and flavorful when they reach us.

Mexico also has a longer mango season than we do – from February to mid-September. If you buy mangos outside south Florida’s June to August peak season, chances are good they came from Mexico.

Mexican mango varieties

Some mango varieties grown in Mexico also are widely grown in south Florida. They include the Haden, Kent, Keitt, and Tommy Atkins.

Other less-common Mexican varieties to watch for at Fairchild’s festival include Ataulfo, Diplomatico, Manilita, Manzanillo, and Oro. All of these except Ataulfo are featured Curator’s Choice mangos, which means you can buy and plant these varieties yourself. They are relatively small trees that won’t overwhelm your yard, and you’ll enjoy the fruit they produce.

To learn specifically about Mexican mangos, attend “The Mangos of Mexico” lecture by Dr. Richard J. Campbell, Fairchild’s senior curator of tropical fruit, at 1 PM Saturday in the Garden House.

Campbell is the lead-off speaker in a schedule of lectures and workshops during both days of the festival. For a complete list, see the Fairchild Web site.

Two highlights

A highlight of the festival, on Saturday morning only, is the Mango Bites Sampling – a selection of mango dishes and products from leading Miami-area restaurants, caterers, and businesses.
Saturday is also the best time to participate in the annual Mango Tasting and Flavor Evaluations, where you can join a panel of expert tasters who will pay $1 to compare several varieties of mangos and then vote for their favorite. This is a popular activity, and supplies have been known to run out, so plan your tasting session for Saturday morning, too.

Other activities

The festival also is your opportunity to learn about advances in mango cultivation, sample the results, buy fruit to take home, and have a lot of fun. Other activities include:

Cooking demonstrations featuring mango dishes prepared by celebrated local chefs.
• Yoga classes for adults and children.
• An international fruit market with multiple varieties of mangos for sale.
• Mangoville, where vendors and food trucks will sell an extensive array of foods and beverages.
• The 14th Annual Mango Brunch on Sunday.
• Fairchild’s new Wings of the Tropics exhibit, where tropical butterflies flit about and alight to feast on mangos.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is located at 10901 Old Cutler Road in Coral Gables. Festival hours each day are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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