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Thoughts from category: our travels

When life gives you lemons

Lemon juice. Useful for cooking (or baking a fine lemon drizzle cake) but you probably wouldn’t want to wash your lunch down with a bottle of the stuff. Which is why you won’t see an ‘innocent 100% lemon juice’ included in your supermarket meal deal. We know what the people (don’t) want.

While it’s not the best on it’s own, we do use lemon juice in some of our drinks (like these ones here). Lemon juice is excellent for it’s natural sharpness and helps give our recipes that zesty kick. But not too zesty or kicky. Just the right zesty kickiness.

photo: our lemons growing in the sunshine

What we don’t use is the skin. Lemon skin isn’t really suitable for smoothies. But luckily we know some people who will happily take the skins off our hands. You see, when you scratch an un-waxed lemon it realises essential oils and essences. These can be used as flavourings in food or as scents in perfume (so next time you’re down the shops buying a bottle of limone e’au de toilette, you know where it’s come from).

The skins can also be dried and used in teabags. Think lemon & ginger. And, if you like a side of jam with your tea and scones, then you’ll be pleased to hear that lemon peel is a key ingredient in pectin, the ingredient that sets the jam and makes it spreadable.

The rest is just leftovers. And who would want a pile of citrus-scented leftovers? Cows, that’s who. Those citrusy leftovers can be made into animal pellets and fed to cattle.

So, quite a useful little fruit really. We love it here at innocent and dedicate a lot of time to making sure we get the sweetest, least bitter juice for our drinks. Our fruit team have recently been in Europe making sure that we’re only sourcing the best tasting lemons (and occasionally making this face).

So, when life gives you lemons make lemonade. And innocent drinks. And perfume. And teabags. And jam. And cow pellets. As the old saying goes.

Mango go go

Our Catherine and Marta recently travelled to India to visit the people who supply our mangoes. As well as tasting the new season mangoes, this trip gave them the opportunity to see how our suppliers are getting on with our five point sustainability plan. The farmers in the region were struggling with lower mango yields so we started a project in partnership with the University of Konkan to address some of the challenges they were facing. We wanted to find sustainable ways to make the mango trees as strong and resilient as possible, so that they could still produce high mango yields despite the changing climate.

While they were out there, Catherine kept a travel log of some of things she and Marta got up to, and what they learned about our mangoes along the way:


Catherine's Log

As I’m quite new to the team, this was my first time going over to India and I was very excited to see the mango farms for myself and find out how everything worked. After an overnight flight, we landed in a very sticky but stunning Mumbai and started the long car journey to our first supplier (easily the bumpiest car ride I've ever been on). It was fascinating to drive into the country, away from the big cities, and see the real India. It was hot, hectic and just as colourful as I’d hoped it would be and the views from the window definitely made up for the bumps in the road.

When we arrived at our first supplier, we started learning about all the work they do with the farmers to improve yields and the new planting techniques they have been trying out, which they needed to implement in order to adapt to the changing climate affecting their fruit. The farms have now started experimenting with different planting, pruning and irrigation techniques. By keeping the trees smaller, the mangoes are easier to pluck and, therefore, the trees yield much more fruit.

 

The scenery was stunning as we drove to our next supplier – filled with lush tropical trees and greenery. When we arrived, we had a go at picking some mangoes ourselves as all of the mangoes on the farms are hand-plucked using a basket on the end of a stick. The equipment looks very simple, but is excellent at getting the job done. Here’s one of our pickers in action:

 

Once they've been picked, the mangoes are washed, placed into bowls, sorted, sent to be ripened and then turned into puree.

One of the most exciting moments of the trip was when we met the king of mangoes himself – the lovely Badrul, who stars in our British TV ads. He doesn’t speak English but we used a translator to tell him that we were really happy to meet him and that he was famous in the UK.

 

We reckon he should've been wearing this shirt when we made the ad (maybe one to consider for next time).

After visiting the suppliers, we’re chuffed to see that our sustainability plan is starting to make a real difference to the way the farmers in the region grow their fruit. We use mango in lots of our recipes (including this and this) and we really hope you think they’re as tasty as we do.