Ark of taste
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Mangaba is the fruit of the mangabeira tree, a native of Brazilian tropical areas. The tree usually grows to a height of 5-6 meters, but can reach 10 meters. It begins to bear fruit at 3-5 years. The mangabeira is a hardy tree and grows well in sandy soils poor in nutrients. The fruit is oval and berry-shaped, yellow or greenish in color, sometimes with red pigmentation. When ripe it has a yellow skin with reddish marks, and a very aromatic, delicate smell. The flesh is soft, white, slightly viscous and fibrous, with a unique sweet flavor. The native people, who know the fruit well and used it widely, called it mangaba, which means ‘good fruit for eating’. As well as being very popular as a fresh fruit, mangaba is also used for making juices, ice creams, jams, pastries, preserves, distillates, and wines and syrup. When the fruit is ready it falls from the branch and finishes ripening on the ground over a period of 12 – 24 hours. The fruit gathered from the ground is the most highly prized but when ripe, mangaba perish very quickly and must be consumed, which is a problem for commercialization. For this reason fruit is mostly picked from the tree, and the fruit is ready to eat after two to four days. In this case some experience is needed to know exactly when to harvest the fruit. As it is so perishable, mangaba are mainly used for industrial processing into juice, ice cream and jam. Commercial use always involves freezing. The latex of the tree is suitable for making rubber and while it was widely used for the purpose in the past this is no longer the case. Some parts of the tree are used for folk medicine: the skin has astringent properties; the latex is used for bruises, inflammation, diarrhea, tuberculosis, ulcers and herpes. An infusion of the leaves helps menstrual pain. Mangaba only grows in Brazil and is most abundant in the highlands and plains along the coast of the Northeast Region and parts of the restinga. It is also found in the cerrado of the center-west, the north of Minas Gerais state and parts of Amazonia. Apart from its attractive flavor, mangaba is a means of survival for the local population. Supplies are almost totally dependent on harvesting wild fruit, and gathering still plays a significant socioeconomic and cultural role among traditional peoples. From November to April, gathering mangaba is one of the only sources of income for hundreds of families in various states of the northeast.


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Minas Gerais


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Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Nominated by:Daniel Freire do Amor Cardoso