June is the beginning of Mango season and South Florida is one of the few places the entire country where mango trees will grow. Over ten years ago, there was a mango tree in nearly every backyard in Marco Island—some in full view from the street, others tucked away from mango seekers. Florida mango season lasts from May through October depending on the variety, but summer is the “peak” mango time.
Sue Keller, a long time resident has 8 varieties of mangos planted all around her yard. The front yard has three varieties and the side yards are mature fruit bearing mangos. In June most of her mango trees are loaded with ready-to-pick early varieties. Sue is famous for her mangos and around this time, neighbors are carefully eyeing their favorites.
Post Hurricane Irma, the mangos on Marco Island are not going to be as plentiful. Many mature mango trees were lost and more were damaged by Irma and will take some time to recover. Sue lost a favorite and most of her mangos lost fruit bearing limbs. Still, there is enough to deliver a bounty of colors and flavors.
So, what do you do with all these mangos? The possibilities are endless! You can make marmalade, ice cream, or bake some delicious mango coconut bread! You can whirl them into a shake mixing one pitted mango with a bit of orange juice, half a banana and half a cup of low-fat yogurt and voila! A refreshing and healthy smoothie. Or whisk the mangos into a salad dressing perfect for mix of tropical papaya, melon and pineapple.
Sue Keller usually freezes slices of mango in small plastic bags for a year’s supply but after Irma happened and she lost her mangos. This year, she wanted to do something new.
Use a dehydrator! Sue bought a medium range dehydrator and as soon as she had her first batch of ripened mangos, she was eager to get started. First, the mangos had to be fresh and firm; she peeled and sliced the mangos and squeezed a fresh orange over the first batch and arranged the slices delicately on the trays. It took 20 mangos and 9 hours before she took her first taste!
According to her, they tasted great and were less filling! Once fully dried, the mangos tasted chewy with pure mango flavor. Dehydrated fruits are not messy or sticky and do not take up a lot of space for storage. According to nutritionists, dehydrated fruits retain most of its fiber and nutrients. Another nutritional perk is the absence of preservatives and additives as compared to store bought dried fruits. For Sue Keller, it was “adios” to store bought dried fruits.