Japanese Mango Lovers: Feast on Miyakojima’s Opulent Jewel
31 July 2015
Miyakojima Keats Mango
Even among the many famous Okinawa mango varieties produced in Miyakojima, the Keats mango stands out above all the rest not only for its size and sweet, succulent flavor, but also for just how rare it is. Due both to its short harvesting period and the limited quantity available, this variety of Japanese mango is highly coveted and considered something of a “phantom” for mango lovers. Let's take a look at the Keats mango and discover just what makes it special.

Short Cultivation Window

Despite being grown in produce-rich Okinawa, the Keats mango (which may remind discerning fruit connoisseurs of apple mangoes) is still extremely rare because it can be cultivated only during the first half of August, a very short window indeed. The process is further complicated by the fact that this period coincide exactly with typhoon season in Japan! Even if a given crop is perfect on the branch, producers might one day find their painstakingly cultivated creations fallen to the ground. Bruised and battered by harsh natural wind and rain, the mangoes are not fit to sell—and thus producers must wait an entire year before working their magic yet again.

Long Ripening Period

The Keats mango is also unique in that you must wait quite a while for it to ripen and thus be at its tastiest. After being harvested, it takes nearly two weeks for it to ripen at room temperature! This length of time is unthinkable with other more standard mango varieties. The following 3 points are essential for judging if the mango is ready to eat after the 10th day:

1. The entire peel has started to become glossy
2. The fruit is soft to the touch
3. It begins to give off a sweet aroma

Since the Keats mango stays green as it ripens, it’s nearly impossible to judge its ripeness simply by looking at its color. Therefore, one must check the above 3 points daily to find out when it’s ready to be eaten! With all the pitfalls in creating them and the patience you have to muster before taking even a single bite, you may wonder why so many people still find Keats mangoes so compelling. To discover that, you need only consider the final product.

Rare Among Mangoes

The Keats mango's green skin provides a stark contrast to other mangoes, which usually come in red or yellow-colored varieties. Its fruit is also more viscous than the standard fare, packed with a rich, extraordinary flavor that spreads throughout the entire mouth and tickles the tongue. The texture is so soft and smooth that you can spoon it out rather than cutting it, rather like a kind of luxurious natural pudding. But when cut with a knife, these mangoes are so juicy that they literally overflow with fruit juice. There are also some that grow to such enormous sizes that just one mango is enough for a whole family to enjoy, quite a surprise given the extremely short harvesting season. Possessed of unique color, enviable size and above all, excellent flavor, it’s no wonder that the Keats mango is regarded as a prized crown jewel, acclaimed even among the other Okinawa mangoes available.

Health Benefits

Keats mangoes not only overflow with juice, but are also brimming with health benefits as well. It contains vitamin B1, calcium, iron and phosphoric acid, and is a natural help against constipation. Keats mangoes also have beta-carotene, which lends the fruit its color and is a safe source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for beautiful skin and is also known to help keep vision sharp and boost the immune system against both cancer and heart disease. A 400g actually mango contains a full day’s supply of vitamin A and C! In addition to helping to guard against sickness with the vitamins it contains, beta-carotene has in some studies been shown to be an anti-oxidant; this is a fancy way of saying that it helps prevent cell damage by oxidation, thus contributing to better and healthier aging.

Where to Purchase

Since the Keats mango isn't distributed widely even in Okinawa, there are not many opportunities to encounter this fruit; in order to make sure you can get your hands on this rare gem, it may actually be best to order your mango online. In Miyakojima, an area famous for these mangoes, you can order from the Allamanda Boutique, a hotel shop located inside the Shigira Resort. They will send the mangoes from the hotel's contract orchard directly to your home. Since Okinawa mango lovers consider this one the crown jewel of the bunch, we hope you feel like royalty when you bite into it.

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