No need to say that the raw mangoes are cut into small pieces, mixed with spices and seeds and stored in jars. Within a few days, the ingredients turn into the mouthwatering concoction. Actually, pickling is a process of preserving or extending the lifespan of food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in vinegar. The pickling procedure typically affects the food's texture, taste and flavour.
Luckily, India is bestowed with unique diversity of mangoes. Some of these varieties are used in India for making pickles -- in commercial ventures and in the households. The Lucknow-based Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) -- an institute of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), has collected few varieties of this unique mango, Appemidi, for evaluating them under the Lucknow conditions.
Dr Shailendra Rajan, director of the CISH, said the plants were prepared from the Appemidi types originated in western Ghat region of Karnataka.
"Their performance is being studied at the institute," he told UNI.
Dr Veena Gowda, a scientist at CISH did her research on Appemidi mangoes during 2013-18 for her doctorate degree. The objective was to study the diversity of these unique mangoes for conservation and use.
"A well planned survey on collection of Appemidi mangoes based on the diversity richness was conducted in western ghat regions of Chikamagalur Distirct of Karnataka state. About 40 types were collected and characterised for profiling of major volatile compounds which are responsible for its unique aroma," Dr Rajan said.
"Among 40 types two genotypes from 'Arenuru' and 'Kudige' found to be the best with respect to flavour. Speciality of the pickle of Appemidi can be preserved for more than 5 years without any preservative," he added.
"In general, we are fascinated with the aroma of the spices used in mango pickle but there is a rare group of mangoes known as Appemidi, famous for aromatic pickles. The fruits are highly aromatic and are known as one of the best pickle mangoes doing business of hundreds of crores rupees," Dr Rajan pointed out.
In other parts of the country, he said, people have to wait till the mango develops hard stone then only the fruit is used for pickle making. "However, Appemidi mangoes are used when they are tender and the entire mango fruit is used for this purpose. These are very small as compared to pickle varieties like Ramleela in north and Ashwin in East but its fragrance is remarkable and the consumers like it and are ready to pay handsome amount for this type of mango pickles," said Dr Rajan.
Appemidi mangoes are harvested mostly from the trees growing in the forest area or riverside. Due to over exploitation, these trees are at the verge of extinction. "Over harvesting and cutting of branches for fruits damage tree and people are only interested in exploiting this natural gift for fruits only," said Dr Rajan expressing his concern.
At ICAR-Indian Institute for Horticulture Research, Bangalore more than 150 varieties have been conserved whereas in Forestry College of Sirsi, Karnataka has also made significant efforts in conserving these aromatic pickle mangoes. The research conducted on these mangoes has revealed that several types exist with unique flavour and aromatic volatile compound and become rare unique.
Now, realising the importance of this unique pickle mango, several nurseries have come up, multiplying these varieties through grafting. It is a good sign indicating the conservation needs of the varieties which might not be available after a few years, if exploited at current pace. (UNI)