Mango Mission

23 February 2011

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It’s procurement season at Koelfontein. A window of about four months in the year when we have to buy in almost the entire stock of fruit that we will need for the year (a number carefully calculated and supported by hope and prayer).

In order to do this, we spend many hours out on the farms of the producers who we partner with to bring you the best fruit under the sun.

And that is why we hit the road all the way north to the Limpopo valley to make sure we got hold of the finest dried mangoes.

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Ferreting out the finest mangoes in the country is not for the faint hearted. The ones we were after grow up right next to the Kruger Park and further north along the border until you get to Musina. And the funny thing is those trees find the climate and soil in the Lowveld so perfect for producing the juiciest mangoes that they are not prepared to move to safer neighbourhoods. So if that meant that we had to drive through the Park for hours on end, fighting off elephant and buffalo and lion and giraffe to get to them mangoes, we’d do just that. (Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but we did have to wait for an elephant to cross the road once.)

Talk about going to the far-flung corners of our lovely country to find the best quality ingredients for Cecilia’s World…

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Now, whereas we make use of solar power to dry our apricots, peaches, nectarines and pears on Koelfontein, the good people in the Lowveld unfortunately can’t call on the sun to dry their mangoes because this time of year the relative humidity in the air is too high in the Lowveld and the mangoes won’t dry.  Simply put it just means that the air is too wet and that the moisture from the mangoes will not evaporate from the fruit into the air. Instead, the clever folks up north make use of mechanical air dryers to dry their beautiful product.

First, the ladies peel the soft, ripe mangoes with a potato peeler and then cut them into slices of more or less even thickness. Next these bright yellow mango slices are evenly spread out on shallow plastic trays before they enter the sauna for a good few hours.

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So now you know where the best mangoes in the country are to be found: just south of the Limpopo River (now that’s a handy fact for your next thirty seconds contest.) And you can rest assured that the team at Cecilia’s World is bringing those superior quality dried mangoes back to Koelfontein so that we can make you dried fruit that is totally irresistible. Happy munching!

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– Annelie & Anton