Mangos, fruit fit for a King are grown right here in the Florida Keys
Mangos are no doubt my favorite fruit. Maybe my favorite food on this planet. You're in for a real treat if you’ve never tasted one of these right off the tree.
Lots of yards here in the Florida Keys have mango trees. Last season’s hurricanes
took most of them out. It was good to see that most folks have replanted them. The wind combined with the storm surge killed them throughout the Lower Keys
and Key West
. The one I get my fruit from was an older one. It did survive the hurricanes. Most of the branches are dead. At the trunk where all the large branches separate are clusters of green leaves. It’s putting out new shoots for new branches. I don’t know how many years it’ll be until it bears mangos again.
The most common mango tree in the Florida Keys is the Hayden. It’s my favorite. The tree will not only bestow you with a most tasty fruit, but it’s also a great shade tree. They can grow to a height of thirty feet here. They also grow to be very old while still producing fruit. One tree is said to be 300 years old and is still producing fruit. They will only grow in a frost free climate. Older trees can tolerate temperatures to thirty degrees, but not for an extended period of time.
I have several small trees I’ve started from seeds. After I eat the mango I keep the seed moist. You’ll need to open the seed casing along the seam of the seed. This opening needs to be made on the humpy side of the seed. I use a sharp pointy knife. It usually opens easily. Next I'll have my small pot filled with potting soil. I’ll take a screwdriver and make an elongated hole in the soil the size of the seed. Place the seed into the hole with the opened part facing up. I leave it about a quarter of an inch above the soil. This means most of the seed in buried in the soil. I water it and set it where it gets early morning sun. Within a week there will be a nodule beginning its journey to become a large mango tree. I keep repotting it as it grows. Each time I repot it I move it out more into the direct sun. When it gets to about three feet tall it’s ready to be planted into the ground. I give lots of these away. I so enjoy eating mangos and just hate to throw the seeds away.
The trees take three to six years to bear fruit. After the fruit is on the trees it takes anywhere from 100 to 150 days for the fruit to ripen. Here in the Florida Keys we begin to get ripe fruit in June. The fruit is usually kidney shaped. I’ve ate mangos that weighed four pounds each. So they can get rather large.
The fruit itself is appealing. The smooth skin is yellowish green with some red on it. The taste is really sweet and has a slight hint of turpentine flavor. The consistency is peach like and juicy really juicy. You might want to go outside to peel and eat it, it’s going to run down your arms and drip off your elbows. It has some fibers in the meat that’ll require dental floss when you’re finished eating.
The trees put out a bounty for harvest. I freeze them. I’ll just peel them and put them into a freezer baggie or vacuum sealer. You don’t need to add anything or do anything to them. When you thaw them, they taste as if they were just picked. You do loose some in the consistency of the fruit but none of the flavor.
I have a great mango salsa recipe I’d like to share with you. It’s tastes so good that sometimes I’ll eat it in a bowl with a spoon as if it was ice cream. Here’s my recipe.
You’ll need a really large bowl for this. I use 6 mangos, make sure they’re ripe. Peel them and cut them up into chunks whatever size you like them. Next peel and take the seeds out of a papaya, once again make sure it’s ripe. Cut this up and add to the mangos. Then peel a ripe pineapple , cut it into chunks and mix it in with the other fruits. Next peel and dice a red onion and add it to the mixture. Next cut the stems off 8 to 12 jalapenos. I like it hot. You never know how hot the jalapenos will be so I’ll add at least 10. I cut them into the mini chopper to make the pieces really small then add it to the rest of the stuff. Then you’ll need to add salt. Don’t be afraid, you ll need to add a good bit. Then I add red wine vinegar, about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of a Key Lime . I gently stir all this together. I’ll set it aside or in the refrigerator.
Now we’re going to make the secret ingredient. Take a whole bulb of garlic, skin it and put it into the mini chopper. Next clean and cut a medium onion and chop it into small pieces in the mini chopper. Now dice a medium tomato. You’ll need to saute’ these three ingredients in olive oil until tender. It just takes a few minutes. Set it aside and let it cool before adding it to the other ingredients. I usually make this first. That way it’s cooling while I’m peeling and cutting all the other fruits.
This salsa and raw mangos are the only two ways I bother eating this incredible fruit that grows in so many folks yards here in the Florida Keys.
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