Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finding the right Hapoos (Alfonso) mango?

Ratnagiri, Vengurla, Devgad, Sindudurg - the bordering Konkan areas have more than just the scenic beaches in common - they have the aromatic, exotic Hapoos. I am yet to decipher the nuances between the varieties available from these three sources, but the several people I have spoken with swear by the fact that the Devgad variety is the best. I have had both the Vengurla and the Devgad varieties and loved both, so I dont hold any bias.

I hate buying Hapoos, because I dont know how to. In the few times I've tried to make a purchase, I've expected a lot from the mighty mango and invariably been disappointed at the outcome. At the end of it, I invariably feel cheated of the Alfonso experience. Since my last mango season almost went hapoos-dry (I dint buy even one box of this variety), I was determined to get to know Alfie better.

I now know that unscruplous sellers also chemically treat the Alfonso with Calcium Carbide, a chemical that causes the external skin to ripen into a rich yellow because of its heat. Since the trade hardly lasts for 45 days, it must be necessary for the traders to turn around their stock extremely fast and hence the use of CaCa (Thats not its chemical name, mind you). The chemical is supposed to release ethylene (mimicing nature) which helps in the ripening of the fruit. I've even heard that some farmers/buyers spray the entire orchard with the chemical to 'ripen' all the fruits of tree. If this treatment gave a result that even vaguely resembled natures miraculous aroma and taste, I would not object; but unfortunately the mango remains quite sour (though it looks ripe). Also, the artificially ripened Hapoos is also supposed cause minor irritation in the throat and may have other side effects too (which I'm not aware of).This white powder leaves tell tale marks on the skin and if not that, then the first bite will tell. If treated, even the best looking mango of the batch will give opposiite visual and taste cues.

During my visits to Goa, I've taken copious notes on how to look for the best Hapoos variety from anyone willing to give me some gyan. Here are the tips for buying the best Hapoos.

1. The final color of the fruit must be a wonderous bright yellow
2. It must have an overpowering aroma (something that typically fills the room or area)
3. A good size of the fruit is approximately the size of my palm (or any other male palm).
4. The fruit must be semi-firm, semi-soft (not too firm for then it is still not ripe, too soft and it is over done)
5. Medium to large sizes are better than the small ones
6. The stem must be firmly placed in the mango and it must be pressing in (and not loose)

Finally of course, there's this huge comfort that I draw if my Alfonsos are coming from the source. If you have someone travelling to these areas, then make sure you request your box.


  1. Chemicals in a post about Alphonsoes :) Thats every bit the trait of a Chemical Engineer!

    Thanks for consolidating the 'gyaan' and sharing it with all of us, i am sure it will turn out to be helpful.