From peel to seed: Mangoes are the pride of the farmers market

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Grown in the desert, the Valencia Pride mangoes have a short window of availability, and chefs including Victor Munoz of Conservatory are enamored of their sweetness, acidity, and texture. Photo by Gillian Ferguson/KCRW

Market correspondent Gillian Ferguson catches up with Victor Munoz of Conservatory at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. The chef is shopping for mangoes for a soft shell crab gazpacho dish. He uses every part of the mango, from the peel to the seed —  dehydrating its skin then adding it to the mango’s juice, and shaving the burnt seed into the mix. The restaurant pickles the harder mangoes for a Thai salad and makes a mango shichimi used to top a crab cake.

Jason Chamberlain from Wong Farms in Mecca near the Salton Sea explains that the Valencia Pride season is only five weeks long. The farm bags each individual mango on the tree so that the fruit doesn't get sunburnt. Sunburn can create dark spots on the mango and cause a bland flavor. It takes six workers two weeks to bag every single one.