It’s that time of year on Marco Island when those beautiful mangoes you’ve seen hanging like ornaments on trees island-wide since May are suddenly becoming ripe. If you’re lucky, a friend or colleague may offer you a mango or two as their trees begin to produce the delicious tropical fruit at a dizzying rate.
Though the history of mango growing in Florida has much uncertainty, mangoes have been around South Florida since the 1860s. However, most mango trees were killed by the freeze of 1886. Starting in 1887, many of South Florida’s mangoes were introduced from Cuba.
Many of Marco Island’s mango trees took a beating from Hurricane Irma in 2017. Fortunately, most of them seem to be recovering nicely and providing bumper crops this summer.
Mangoes are unique in that there are good mangoes and there are mangoes that are not so good. Buying a mango at grocery stores is not necessarily the best way to discover the delights of a good mango.
Mangoes in the grocery store may look beautiful, but because they are picked early for shipping and aren’t allowed to fully ripen on the tree, they are often stringy and bland.
When you find a good mango, you will likely be on a lifelong quest to find more. After all, there are hundreds of varieties of mangoes to be discovered.
The mango is the most popular fruit in the world and the king of tropical fruit for a reason. The fruit of a mango can be enjoyed by itself, made into a delicious smoothie, baked into mango bread, or used to create a delicious salsa or chutney. Mango is also a great addition to salads, fruit salads, marinades and even ice cream.
The United States is not even among the top 25 producers of mangoes worldwide. The hotspots for mango production are India, China, Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil and Egypt. India, by far, is the number one producer of mangoes in the world.
So, get out there and try to get your hands on a Marco mango. There’s no better time than now.