Posted on Jun 20, 10:47 AM
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South Florida is known for some pretty outrageous stuff, sometimes so silly, it’s positively unbelievable. Take this little ditty for example, people from almost all walks of life have mango trees in their backyards. Right about this time of year, what to have for lunch, breakfast and dessert, is never a question. From auto mechanics to lawyers to food bloggers, you’d better believe there’s a mango somewhere in their daily diet. After ten years in the ground, a mango tree will start producing ten, thirty or up to a hundred plump, juicy mangos and the varieties run the gamut.
Mangos ripening on the tree is a wonderfully natural way for things to happen. Pruning took some of the wind out of our tree this year so the mangos are coming a few weeks behind, but all signs point to a tasty harvest when the time is right.
Our own mango tree was planted long before we got there (to FoodNewsie’s Miami location) and visiting from DC every June is well worth the flight or drive. After a couple years of dud results, a recent pruning took the lower six-feet of branches off the tree. This is a horror-movie type of pruning, BUT was needed since care of the tree had been lacking. The remaining fifteen or so feet going to the top is now fresh, clean, inaccessible to ground problems (lazy squirrels, bugs, dirt that bounces up from heavy rains, etc.) and producing evenly shaped and colored mangos.
Pruning your own mango tree this way can save the day and get you some real estate beneath the tree for a little time out at a bistro table in the afternoon. It put mango production off a few weeks and our yield is slowly coming in while others are already enjoying their backyard mangos. With luck, we’ll soon enjoy tree-plucked mangos with Vanilla Bean ice cream in the evenings as dessert! So how did all these trees come to be?
We got a glimpse of the story behind why so many homes in south florida have mango trees in the backyard thanks to Luis who couldn't help but show us his mango once we started talking about ours. His is a fine little rascal that's going straight down the hatch, as is!
On hearing about our mango tree and seeing some images, Luis presented his little Hayden/Kent and gave us a crash course in where all these mango trees came from. Off the west coast of Florida is the acknowledged birthplace of most of the trees, Pine Island, FL where, every June for just over a dozen years now, residents have celebrated mangos! Without trudging through all of South Florida’s history, a quick dip to 1945 sees the Hayden Mango getting a makeover near Miami where the Kent variety hit just the right note with residents.
Some folks have had the bad luck to have mangos that are full of fibers and “hair.” The Kent matures without these fibers, is slightly smaller by our understanding than its naturally occurring Hayden ancestor and sweeter. The two form a blush of red and are ready to eat once every color of the traffic light is showing: Red, yellow and green. The flesh or meat is yellow, soft and makes a localvore out of everyone who tries it.
Natalie in Ft Lauderdale brandished her mango at the check out line after we asked if it was for sale - nope! That's her lunch right from the backyard. A stunning and shiny example and then, to make matters better, she introduced us to the ever uncommon notion of Mango Hot Sauce!
Natalie in Fort Lauderdale brought her mango to work where she runs the register at a food pit stop in the airport. We asked if the mango was for sale and she mentioned that it was hers from home. After a little chatting around, she revealed that she loves eating the ripe mangos in tandem with the still-green mangos chopping both into cubes and mixing them up – like honeydew and cantaloupe salads that mix both into one bite. Her other favorite way to eat a mango preserves the fruit in a way we never thought possible – Mango Hot Sauce. “You mean, Mango Salsa,” I asked to clarify… Nope. Hot Sauce with mangos! I have to try this!
Ripe mango, Blue Bonnet Peppers and Vinegar. Experiment with your own ratio and blend away. The more the hot sauce ages, the more complex it gets. The closer you cut to the seeds in the pepper, the hotter it gets. For Hot Sauce First Aid 101, keep MILK, not water, handy in case the hot sauce is TOO hot. That’s a really neat tease into what all can be done with mangos whether they’re from a hyper local source or the grocer! Enjoy Summer and include a mango!
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