Mamey on the menu: All about Yucatán’s healthy fruit

Mamey in the market. Photo: Getty
Mamey in the market. Photo: Getty

Yucatán’s mamey is a hot-weather fruit, perfect for aguas frescas and ice creams.

It’s also full of healthy properties, and to get some, you’re in the right place. Yucatán happens to be the country’s largest producer of mamey.

The mamey, or chacal haaz in Mayan, is distinguished by its ovoid shape, thin, rough skin and a light brown exterior. Cut open, its flesh is sweet and an appetizing salmon pink.

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Fairly mainstream in Mexico, mamey seems exotic to foreigners who are unfamiliar with its taste. The flavor is a combination of sweet potato and pumpkin with undertones of almond, chocolate, honey and vanilla.

Mamey is a sweet, creamy fruit, exceptionally rich in fiber, antioxidants and beta carotene. It is high in vitamins C, A and B and minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron.

Mamey contains antiseptic properties and is often recommended to help calm the nervous system, soothe an upset stomach and alleviate headaches.

Mamey has been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer, improve immune function, and help to protect against heart disease and osteoporosis. It is also excellent for helping to alleviate hypertension and the symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Mamey is great for eye and skin health and can help to prevent age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and skin cancer, researchers find.

It is a wonderful food to help rebuild and nourish the body after a long illness as it is easy to digest.

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Mamey is 70 percent water, which contains minimal amounts of calcium, iron, fat and fiber, but is rich in protein, sodium, potassium and carbohydrates, the source of its sweetness.

Growing mamey

The tropical mamey tree usually reaches between 8 and 10 meters high, but can reach 30 meters. It takes four years for a tree to start producing fruit.

After 15 years, each tree can produce up to half a ton of mamey between January and July.

One hectare of mamey with 200 trees can produce 20 to 25 tons per year.

As in many other fruit tree crops, the mamey’s main enemy is the fruit fly, but recent cultivation practices tend to be agro-ecological, so producers choose to attack and control the pest with traps made from packaging containing hydrolyzed protein combined with malathion (a synthetic insecticide) and pheromones, thus avoiding the use of pesticides.

Yucatán is the main producer of mamey nationwide. It is cultivated in an area of ​​507 hectares in the municipalities of Akil, which has 240 hectares planted, in addition to Ticul, Tekax and Oxkutzcab. Together they produce 11,084 tons a year.

This production is sold mainly in the State of Mexico and Puebla. It is also exported to the international market in Europe and Asia, generating a total of 42.8 million pesos for the state economy annually.

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