I got up at 3am to buy the most popular item in Birmingham market and I can see why the rush

Other than a flight, there are only a few things that will get me out of bed at 3am. Mango season is definitely one of them. It’s the surest sign that summer is coming and so begins the battle to get your hands on the highly sought after fruit.

These aren’t the big yellow-fleshed fruits you get in the supermarket, these are rich, orange-dripping mangoes that boast varying levels of sweetness. They are soft and delicate, not crushingly heavy, and arrive individually wrapped in netting to survive transit from India or Pakistan.

The mango season runs roughly from May to August, but lots of the highly prized Alphonso variety arrive in mid-May and last for a very short window. The season ends with the first drop of monsoon rains in India and Pakistan, further increasing appetite and fruit fever in the UK.

READ MORE: Yellow supermarket sticker tip saving £100 as shopper says ‘you can feed a family’

Want the latest headlines and breaking news emailed to your inbox? Sign up here, it’s free.

During Covid, fewer cargo flights to the UK have boosted mango prices, so fruit-craving Brummies will often watch the rains in India and find out when the best time is to pick up a box of Alphonso, known as “ the mango king.

Stacks of mangoes at the wholesale markets in Birmingham(Image: Naomi de Souza / BirminghamLive)

You can buy boxes of six to 12 mangoes from the many South Asian owned stores in Birmingham, but the towering boxes don’t last long and I wanted to see if it was cheaper to buy them wholesale. I set off just before 4am to hit the town’s merchants and restaurants for a box of the good stuff.

A crop of Alphonso arrives in England around May, followed by the Kesar variety, then Dusheri and Langra by late summer. Gliding through the sleepy streets of Birmingham on my way to Birmingham Wholesale Market, I have a firm idea of ​​what I’m looking for in my mind, Alphonso mangoes which taste as sweet as nectar and the Kesar variety which are a bit more tart.