Mindanao is famous for the precious fruit, durian, known for the paradoxical appeal of its luscious taste and texture underneath an utterly undesirable scent. Many Filipinos swear to the unique culinary experience that durian can give while others are simply repulsed by its overpowering smell.
For those who dislike the taste and smell of durian, a slightly similar-looking fruit, called marang, that also thrives in Mindanao has a sweeter tang and more appealing scent that can also bring a distinctive experience to the taste.
What to know about marang
This indigenous fruit is not only compared to durian but also to breadfruit and jackfruit, which bear similar physical appearance as marang (Artocarpus odoratissima). Marang is slightly bigger than breadfruit or rimas which also belongs to the same genus, Artocarpus, and is softer and smaller than jackfruit or langka.
Its shape is round to oblong with a thick rind covered with supple and broad spines when young which become stiff and frail as the fruit matures. Growing up to 15 to 20 cm long and 13 cm broad, marang can weigh up to one kilogram or more on the average.
Meanwhile, the marang tree is an evergreen that grows up to 25 meters tall with 40 cm trunk girth. The leaves are elliptic to obovate, which are largely alike to that of the breadfruit but are less lobed. It grows up to 16 to 50 cm long and 11 to 28 cm broad.
But the most important part is what’s inside the thick skin. After cutting, twisting and pulling the half of the rind as how marang is traditionally opened, an abundant core full of white fleshy arils will surely invite anyone to pick and taste. The core resembles that of the jackfruit and the arils (covering of the seed) are the size of a grape with a seed that is 15 mm long.
Marang is widely grown in the Philippines and Borneo and was introduced in Brazil, Australia and other tropical countries. “Marang is one of the popular fruits growing in Mindanao especially in North Cotabato, Davao, Agusan provinces, etc. Actually there is no identified marang plantation since marang is just a volunteer crop yet there are large areas [where] marang trees are abundantly growing,” stated Dr. Emma Sales of the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in its project titled, “Optimization of Postharvest Technologies and Exploitation of other Attributes of Marang”. This project is supported by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).
Marang can grow in many types of soils, from loose type to heavy type, but it will grow best in loamy soil with 5.5 to 8 pH level. After four to five years, marang will begin to bear fruits.
Healthier with marang
Marang is gaining popularity, not only for its delectable taste and texture, but also for its dietary value. Popularly consumed fresh as table dessert in Mindanao, marang is filled with beneficial nutrients.
It contains ash, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, carbohydrates, crude fiber, fat, iron, niacin, phosphorus, protein, retinol, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamin A. The seeds are also edible, which can be eaten after being boiled or roasted.
However, once opened, marang must be consumed right away because it spoils easily unlike other exotic fruits. It rapidly oxidizes which causes the arils to brown while its flavor starts to become bland. This is the reason why marang is not that popular in other regions of the country apart from Mindanao. Even though it has the potential to become widely known, its short shelf life and high perishability hamper its marketability.
According to Mr. Zacarias Sarian, Agriculture Editor of Manila Bulletin and an exotic fruit farmer, “Marang is a very delicious fruit that is traditionally grown in Mindanao… The trouble is that marang has poor shipping quality. Ripe fruits easily deteriorate so that those that are available in Manila, if there are, were harvested prematurely. It has been shown that the marang will also bear fruit in Luzon. In fact, one caller from UP Diliman contacted us one day telling us that they have a very fruitful tree that needed pruning. She was asking how to do that. We also know of a fellow in Brgy. Aduas in Teresa, Rizal who used to have a number of fruiting marang trees. In other words, more people should plant this fruit tree in Luzon to meet the requirements in Manila.” This statement was found in an article “Marang in Season” written by Mr. Sarian and posted in the website, Agri ZACcess Ideas.
Optimizing postharvest and marketing strategies
The University of Southern Mindanao – Agricultural Research Center (USMARC) sought to optimize postharvest techniques that will prolong the shelf life of marang, and to develop processed food products from marang.
This was conducted through the project, “Pilot Testing of Postharvest Technologies and Product Diversification of Marang”, funded by BAR and the agriculture/” title=”View all articles about Department of Agriculture here”>Department of Agriculture-High Value Crops Development Program (HVCDP). This project was implemented by Dr. Sales along with a group of USM researchers.
The project turned out postharvest techniques such as right maturity stage harvesting, appropriate utilization of tools, proper packaging methods, and ripening techniques can improve shelf-life and storability and can minimize losses.
Eleven food products from marang arils and seeds were also developed through the project. From the arils, a total of nine products were created that include vinegar, vacuum-fried marang, ice cream, jelly, conserve, jam, juice, concentrate, and blanched pulp. From the seeds, coffee and nut butter were developed.
A future with marang
The Philippines is known to be agriculturally rich and diverse with bountiful flora and fauna recognized by the world. Mango, coconut, durian, and many more have been fascinating foreign consumers and so it is not impossible that one day, marang will become one of the premium quality exports of the country.
With the orchestrated efforts of different sectors and institutions like USM, BAR, DA, and more, it is hoped that Filipinos, not only from Mindanao but also from Luzon and Visayas, will have a taste of marang and will be encouraged to venture in marang production and processing in order to create and meet the demand and to gain competitive advantage in the global market. Optimistically, marang will become underutilized no more.
1. Marang. www.fruitipedia.com
2. Pati, A. K. Marang (Artocarpus odoratissimus) Best Nutrition USA. www.prlog.org
3. Agron, E. B. Extended Storability of Marang Studied. www.bar.gov.ph
4. The Exotic Marang of Mindanao and Its Recipes. www.agribusinessweek.com
5. Sarian, Z. B. Marang in Season. www.agrizaccess.com
6. Calleja, D. O. DA crafting technology to make ‘marang’ marketable abroad. a. www.balita.ph
7. Reynoso, Z. B. 2012. Food products from Marang developed. www.bar.gov.ph
By: Leila Denisse Padilla BAR Digest October-December 2012 Issue (Vol. 14 No. 4)