A Gorgeous Blue Ribbon for Whole Foods

Wow.  I have not one, but two reasons to give a big, bold shout-out of appreciation to Whole Foods Markets.

1)  They recently offered ORGANIC Kents at $1.50 apiece. Enough said!  (January 2011)

Organic Mangoes @ Whole Foods Markets

2)  They did something *very* cool with labeling that I have not seen other stores do.

First, some back story about PLUs  (produce look-up codes).  For some asinine reason that I do not understand, the Mango Board advocates and promotes a PLU regimen for mangoes that is NOT helpful to consumers.  To be fair, they didn’t start the system.  In fact, the International Federation for Produce Standards is probably to blame and in later posts I will dig deeper about the history.

In a nutshell, you know when you buy produce and you see those little stickers?  Well, those little stickers have numbers, which is the fruit or veggie’s PLU.

Now get this.  Despite the vast differences in quality, KentTommy Atkins, and Haden mangoes all share the same numbers! (As an aside, these are typically 4051 or 4959 depending on the size…and in the sticker below Whole Foods is using what’s called a “retailer assigned” PLU for these Kents instead of the standard 4051 or 4959.   The “9” that begins the number is an organic designation)

Anyway, back to my point. For cripes sake, since the mango varieties are SO different, they should each have their own PLU!   That way, a shopper could at least learn the number for the variety they like most, and then rely on the number to select decent mangoes, since it IS a fact that mangoes can be hard to tell apart.

OR….retailers/importers could do what Whole Foods has done. In fact, because of its simplicity, I prefer it!  Take a look at this beaut of a sticker.

Organic KENT Mango Peru

Not only does it have the industry PLU on it, BUT Whole Foods went to trouble of labeling the mango:  Organic KentMango Peru… Now there’s a breakthrough for consumers seeking the real deal mango experience!  It’s a Kent.  Not a Tommy!  Sold!

I’m telling you, this is huge.  Why? because now a mango novice doesn’t have to worry about accidentally selecting a Tommy Atkins mango and being robbed of the real deal mango experience.

If I were a mango importer, this is *exactly* the kind of labeling I would put on my fruit.  And who knows.  Maybe I’ll start a new venture.  No Tommys.  Only the best for my customers.  The trusted brand:  Mango Maven!

So thank you Whole Foods for going the distance.  I’ll do my best to get the word out about just how important this extra effort in labeling is….WELL DONE!!!   MUCH APPRECIATED!!!

(And to my mango fans, please let me know if other retailers deserve this labeling praise…and send pics.  I’ll post the praise!)

Kents and More Kents

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Mango Varieties in US Markets

Kents are great mangoes.  They have almost totally smooth flesh, are very tasty, and are highly recommended IF you know how to eat ’em ripe.  To that point, let’s make sure we know what “ripe” means.

First, let’s see what a line-up of Kent mangoes looks like. Below we’ve got 8 Kents lined up from the most unripe (Kent 1) on the left to perfectly ripe on the right (Kent 8).

Next, let’s take THE SAME eight Kents and flip them over for a different view and perspective on color.

Some quick observations.

  • Kent 3 looks riper than Kent 4, doesn’t it? It’s got more red. BUT, to the touch, Kent 4 was a fair degree softer, and thus, closer to ripeness.
  • Kent 7 looks ripe, just like Kent 8, doesn’t it?  It’s very similar in color to Kent 8.  But, alas, cutting Kent 7 open would only disappoint you.
  • Kent 8 is the *only* mango that is ripe.  Views 1 -3 below tell the story especially well. See the wrinkles all over Kent 8?  It’s ready to eat!
  • Kent 7 is *just beginning* to get a wrinkle or two; it looks ready, but isn’t.  Another couple of days, or maybe even one day depending on the environment, would make all the difference for Kent 7.
  • Unfortunately, the web has its limits and can’t deliver a sense of touch.  So let me just say this.  Kent 8 felt *suspiciously* soft.  Using other fruits as a benchmark, Kent 8 would *almost* feel spoiled…or too ripe.  Kents in particular are soft among mango varieties, but ripe mangoes are soft in general, maybe something akin to ripe apricots.
  • So don’t let softness throw you off, especially with Kents.
  • Chances are, a fairly soft Kent with a good amount of wrinkling is a good bet for the real deal mango experience.

Bottom Line:

  • Flavor: Sweet and rich for sure
  • Texture: Juicy, tender flesh with very limited fibers
  • Color: Dark green and often has a dark red blush over a small portion of the mango
  • Shape: Large oval shape
  • Ripening Cues:  Kents have yellow undertones or dots that cover more of the mango as it ripens. Squeeze gently to judge ripeness and look for wrinkles
  • Peak Availability: January through March, June through August
  • Primary Source Countries: Mexico, Ecuador, Peru