Marco Island is rolling in mangos this time of the year. You’ll find a mango tree in almost every backyard or side yard, surpassing even citrus and bananas in popularity. If you don’t have a mango, your neighbor for sure is going to have one loaded with fruit. And the trees will be producing more fruit than they can give away until September.
Sue Keller, a long time resident on the island, has eight varieties of mangoes planted in her front and side yards. Her trees are loaded with fruits, with the early variety ready for picking. Her mangoes will continue to bear fruit until September.
Sue’s mangoes come in assorted shapes and colors; round, pear shaped, and kidney shaped. All are green when unripe, but as they ripen, some turn into vivid colors of canary yellow with an orange reddish blush at the bottom. Mangoes vary in flavor and texture. Some are smooth inside, creamy and slightly aromatic, golden, juicy, fragrant and sweet tasting, like a blend of peaches, apricots and pineapples, some even witha hint of orange or honey.
Mangoes are also healthy for you, in addition to tasting good. They are an excellent source Vitamin C, are sodium free, and have no saturated fat while being rich in fiber and potassium. And half a mango is only 70 calories. These are reasons that mangoes are becoming more popular to backyard gardeners.
There is no wrong way to eat a mango. You can use it to make mango chutney; chop or mash and add it to yogurt; puree it to be used as a sauce or coulis; bake it for mango bread and cobblers; prepare it in jams and marmalades; turn it into ice cream; use it to flavor steamed rice; add it to ceviche and salsa recipes; and dice it for a fresh topping to pancakes and waffles. The list goes on.
Looking for the perfect flavor? Sue Keller’s mango varieties represent the fruit’s exotic origins and tastes. They bear names such as Bailey’s Marvel (a fruit with excellent flavor); Valencia Pride (sweet and floral, the kind thatmelts in your mouth); Duncan (flesh is orange and velvety with a hint of citrus); and Glenn (soft and silky with no fibers). The other varieties are just as noteworthy, such as Haden, Early Gold and Wise. Her eighth variety was planted from an unknown seed, but its flavor also does not disappoint.
Supermarket-offering mangoes are often limited in variety. They may be picked too early for shipment and the flavors and textures may taste flat. At the supermarket, choosing a mango is like choosing a peach; firm to the touch with a nice aroma to it. Take it home and ripen at room temperature to enjoy.
Take advantage of the Florida grown mangoes offered to you from your local farmers market or better yet, befriend a neighbor with a mango tree. There is nothing like a fresh picked mango, ripened naturally and eaten when its flavor is most intense.
Some consider the mango to be the world’s most popular fruit. It takes only one bite to understand why. It is a taste of the tropics for your enjoyment.