If you’ve ever wondered what the most expensive mango is, look no further. The Miyazaki mango, grown in just a single Japanese prefecture, looks rather different to the mangoes we’re used to. But at around $50 per mango, are they really worth the exorbitant price tag? Read on to find out!
What are Miyazaki Mangoes?
Also known as ‘egg of the sun’, or Taiyo-no-Tomago in Japanese, the first thing that strikes you about a Miyazaki mango is the large size – they weigh at least 350g. Or maybe it’s the color, which is a deep shade of rich red, bordering on purple, and invites their other nickname of ‘dragon’s eggs’. Aesthetically, they’re beautiful to look at – and once you cut into the skin, you’ll find an absurdly sweet and vivid yellow flesh that’s creamy, juicy, fragrant, and barely fibrous at all. A bite of this mango practically melts in the mouth!
Where do Miyazaki Mangoes Come From?
Surprisingly, Miyazaki mangoes are a relatively recent fruit phenomenon. They’re originally a type of ‘Irwin’ mango which was developed in Florida in the 1940s – and those similar fruits are sold in the States today for only a few dollars each.
In the 1980s, a few Japanese farmers began farming Miyazaki mangoes, and discovered after their first season that the fruits had a distinctly different taste depending on how they were harvested. Their popularity grew quickly, and now these mangoes are famous the world over.
How are Miyazaki Mangoes Grown?
Firstly, they’re grown exclusively in Miyazaki city, located in the Kyushu prefecture of southern Japan. It’s a city that produces plenty of citrus fruit, including lychee and kumquat, but the climate of Miyazaki is especially perfect for these mangoes: it’s subtropical with fertile soil, heavy rainfall, extensive sunlight and generally warm weather.
Miyazaki mangoes aren’t grown outside at the mercy of the elements though. To achieve the best possible fruit, the mango trees remain inside covered greenhouses throughout their lifespan, with strictly controlled conditions to maintain the optimal temperatures.
Farmers make executive decisions early on in the growing process. Around 80% of the budding fruits are removed from the stem to encourage the chosen fruit to grow larger and receive all the plant’s nutrients.
When they’re still small, each fruit is wrapped carefully with a net which is then attached to an overhead wire suspended from the top of the greenhouse. This helps to support their eventual weight, but there’s another reason too: Hanging each mango individually is how they achieve their unique color. The Miyazaki sunshine turns them a deep red, and carefully placed reflectors beneath the fruit help to develop this consistent color all over.
Instead of farmers handpicking the mango, it’s only harvested when it falls naturally from the tree, and the netting helps to cushion its fall. This way, the mangoes are guaranteed to have their uniquely sweet and melt-in-the-mouth taste – although before being sold and exported, they still go through a regimen of checking and testing for the perfect weight, size, shape, and sugar content.
Why are Miyazaki Mangoes Different?
Sure, the Miyazaki mango is sweeter, bigger, and a deeper color than its other mango counterparts. But it’s the particularly impressive level of care that the farmers give to their mangoes that adds so much value to the price.
The peak harvest for Miyazaki mangoes is between April and August. Once harvested, the best mangoes go to auction, where large distributors bid on them. A typical price is $50 per mango, but at some auctions a single fruit has fetched $2000!
How to Try Miyazaki Mangoes
For the most part, Miyazaki mangoes aren’t purchased to eat as a casual snack. Japan is a nation of gift givers, so expensive fruits like these are often given at formal occasions and to mark business arrangements. For this reason, the mangoes are packaged beautifully in intricately designed boxes with soft cushioning to make sure they’re a perfectly suitable gift.
If you get your hands on a Miyazaki mango in the US, there are a few ways to go about eating it. Cut straight through the mango off center, a few millimeters from the stem. Slice evenly into four pieces, then flip the pieces flesh side up. Score horizontally and vertically so the squares fan out. Then enjoy your first taste of these infamous mangoes!
For an easier way to try, why not check out the delicious Japanese Miyazaki mango snacks on offer at Bokksu?