April 3, 2008

Lounging mangoes

mangoes, HondurasMangoes lounging in the hammock, but not for long

I love mango season. These were priced at three mangoes for L. 20 (US $1.06). We saw trucks full of mangoes all over town yesterday. We are going to need some more tomorrow.

Mango tree, La Ceiba, HondurasDid you know that mangoes are in the same family as poison ivy and some people are allergic to them for that reason? I've read that it is the tree parts, sap, and the peel of the fruit that cause the problem. If I was allergic, I think I'd get El Jefe to peel them for me and take the chance! Actually, I am extremely allergic to poison ivy but I've never had a problem with mangoes.

These photos show trees which are very small for mangoes. I'm not sure of the variety, but I think it may be the variety Mangafera indica 'Julia', which I know is a smaller tree. Some mango trees are huge with the canopy covering an entire house lot.

My Honduran book, Fruits of the Humid Tropics, says that mango trees can grow to 120 meters in height (394 ft.) and the canopy can be 40 meters (131 ft.) in width! They provide a very dense shade but it is difficult to get anything to grow under them, so those large varieties are out for this gardener.

Mango tree, La Ceiba, HondurasMangoes need a humid tropical climate with the dry and rainy seasons well differentiated and 1,000 to 1,600 mm. (39 to 63 in.) of rain annually. Depending upon the distribution of the rain, the trees may flower and fruit two or three times per year. Mangoes can grow in almost any type of soil from slightly acid to slightly alkaline, but grow best at elevations less than 1,100 meters (3,600 ft.) above sea level.

Because different varieties mature at different times, our mango season in La Ceiba lasts for a good part of the year. A mature tree can produce between 200 and 2,000 fruits annually.

My favorite way to eat mangoes is sliced fresh, but we sometimes make mango ice cream and lately have been using them pureéd in our homemade yogurt. La Gringa's rich mango ice cream recipe can be found here. Sliced green mangoes are often sold on the street in La Ceiba. They come in a plastic bag into which salt, a red-tinted vinegar, and/or Tabasco-like hot sauce are poured.

cutting mangoBlogger Jonna mentioned that she has a problem peeling and slicing mangoes because of the slipperiness of the fruit. True, they can be dangerous! Reader Patty gave us a great tip about peeling and slicing mangoes. As you can see in this photo, the first side didn't come out too well but I got better on the second side.

Start Cooking shows how-to photos of that method as well as gives another method using a corn holder to steady the mango while you slice. Both are great ideas. Don't forget to wash the fruit before you start peeling or slicing.

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