Articles written by Darryl McCullough (unless otherwise noted)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Best Mango Ever?

Mangos--- unlike, say, black sapotes--- have wide variation in flavor, texture, color, and the other subtle elements that go into the tasting experience. With so many different ways to weight these elements, combined with horticultural factors such as ripeness, fertilization, weather, and so on, it's hopeless to argue over which mango tastes best. Of course, that doesn't stop the folks at Tropical Fruit Forum--- or anywhere that mango lovers may gather--- from trying.

With 26 mango varieties on my property and room for a couple more down the road, I've burned up more than one afternoon poring through the TFF discussions. The mangos produced by the Zill nursery in Boynton Beach receive a lot of attention. And with good reason, as they are among the most innovative of the new varieties appearing on the market.

Most readers rank two of the Zill creations at or near the top--- Lemon Zest and Sweet Tart. The latter is a seedling of the “ZINC” mango--- the Zill Indo-Chinese. For eating pleasure, Sweet Tart gets astounding reviews from the tough crowd at TFF. Some of them verge on the mystical:
Brett Borders: The inside flesh was succulent & dark orange. It reminded me why I love tropical fruit--- because of those rare experiences where you taste something so appealing that it seems unlikely it could grow from a natural seed in the ground. Where you wonder if it might have somehow been genetically altered or contain alien DNA?

This mango has a magnificent sweetness that outshines candy & cane sugar... with a musky cantaloupe-like undertone and a bold tartness that tingled and tickled my mouth. Some cola syrup was under the skin and most concentrated near the stem. I tried to slow down and enjoy each bite... but I staggered and could... not... stop... until all that remained were some paper thin strips of skin and a very clean seed. I rate this mango as "outstanding" - a wonder of nature and agriculture.
DurianLover: You bite few times, and than you stop and think. What's going on here? There are explosions of sweet, acid, and tart. Tart being most prominent flavor. Sometimes I think I don't like this mango. Too much tart. But than I would change my mind one minute later, and think this is an awesome mango! I guess its just one of the tricks this mango plays with your mind. Some people never get used to strong tart component, so you have to try for yourself. If you like it, than you really going to like this mango. Also its the only mango you taste long after last bite. For this reason at one point I made a habit to finish every mango meal with ST.

jc: If you want mild, laid back, subtle nuances of flavor and aroma this fruit ain't for you! Sweet Tart mangos will make your mouth water uncontrollably, and not in a negative sense. If I only had space for two mangos one would be the Lemon Zest and the other would be the Sweet Tart.

zands: The sweet-tart mango is the sweetest mango I have encountered. It veers into sugary so diabetics should avoid this one and I am only half joking. Yes there are some sub-acid and tart flavors underneath. The sub acid + tart component is 15% of the amount of the sweet components so if you don't like tart you don't have to worry about planting this mango tree.

bsbullie: To me [ST] is better than LZ... and while not everyone has had the opportunity to taste it yet, don't look back 'cause here comes Cotton Candy.

Squam256: I would compare it to a prime Dot if I had to compare it to another mango. It's a ZINC seedling but doesn't really taste like ZINC. Some of the ST's I've had are up there with the best mangos I've ever eaten...and I've tried hundreds of cultivars.

The tart component only dominates depending on how under-ripe it is. The more ripe it is the more richly sweet it becomes. One of the beauties of Sweet Tart is how long the window is on when it can be eaten and enjoyed.
What is the tree like? Some describe it as “compact”, while zands says: .
Sweet tart is such a heavy and precocious bearer that it will change the canopy structure of the tree and make it more spreading. Left to its own devices without producing they'll grow very vertically.
Despite its magnificent flavor, the Sweet Tart's commercial value may be limited. One of the heavy-posting pro's on the Forum reports that Sweet Tart does not ship well--- “If picked green it won't ripen properly, and if picked at the proper stage, it's too soft to ship.”

My own Sweet Tart is fairly new, planted as a 3-gallon tree just last December. Awarded a prime irrigated planting spot, it's off to a good start, with healthy-looking leaves from a couple of flushes. I won't let it fruit next year, but perhaps 2018 will make me a true believer.

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