Oh, my, do we have mangoes this year. The tropical fruits hang heavy on backyard trees all over the Tampa Bay area, and are selling for a buck each at some grocery stores.
July is time to tango with the mango, and I am certainly doing a lot of dancing. From bread to muffins, salsas and salads, we just may turn yellow-orange at our house from the overload of juicy, sweet mangoes. It's also the month that the fruit is celebrated at festivals around the state.
Twelve years ago, with a young wolverine in tow, we bought some tiny mango trees, among them a Florida Cogshall, at the annual mango festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables. The string of 2004 hurricanes nearly did the Cogshall in, but with some TLC it regained its momentum and this year, for the first time, it is laden with fruit. The baby wolverine is tall enough now to pick the mangoes that neither his father nor I can reach.
Pendulous pink bombs droop from the Cogshall in our front yard. Passers-by are noticing, gazing up as they walk dogs or themselves on an evening constitutional. A few dare to filch a glorious specimen or two.
The Cogshall is not a commercial tree because the skin of the fruit is thin and once the fruit ripens, it goes soft quickly. It doesn't ship well. But its flavor is ambrosial, with coconut and buttery overtones and having none of the fiber that marks most commercially grown mangoes.
Our other trees are bearing fruit this year, too, among them a Julie (Caribbean), Dot (South Florida), Ice Cream (Trinidad and Tobago) and Mallika (India). It's a regular United Nations of mangoes in our yard.
Jene VanBustel, owner of Jene's Tropicals in St. Petersburg, says she has had many customers sharing tales of overflowing mango trees this summer. VanBustel sells many of the noncommercial and "condo" varieties, cultivated to grow only about 6 feet tall.
She's stumped as to why the fruit is so voluminous this summer and wondered if two unusually cold winters had something to do with that. She is partly right.
Dr. Richard Campbell, director of horticulture at Fairchild, says a colder-than-usual December coupled with an extremely dry spring has brought us a mango bounty. South Florida is also experiencing a bumper crop.
Many delicious mango varieties have been cultivated in South Florida by Fairchild and University of Florida scientists, but the state doesn't produce much of a crop anymore. There are fewer than 2,000 acres of commercial mango groves in Florida, most in Miami-Dade County. Compare that with more than 550,000 acres of citrus.
About a third of South Florida's mango groves were decimated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and not replanted. Even before Andrew, most mangoes sold in grocery stores across the nation were imported from South America and Mexico. Today, imports account for more than 95 percent of the market.
Interestingly, the mangoes we are most accustomed to, Haden and Tommy Atkins, were developed by growers in South Florida and are now produced out of the country. These varieties are fibrous and have thick skin that makes them hold up well in shipping.
The following 10 ideas for eating the harvest will come in handy if you're lucky enough to have a mango tree in your yard or a generous neighbor willing to share. If not, the grocery store mango bins beckon.
There are plenty more uses, but I think the very best way to eat a mango is to cut the sunshine-colored flesh from the skin and pop the pieces in your mouth. No adornment. No recipe.
And this year, we are going to have our fill.
1. Add mango chunks to store-bought or homemade coleslaw.
2. Top rice pudding with diced mango and drizzle with dulce de leche sauce, then sprinkle with toasted coconut. Both rice pudding and dulce de leche can be purchased at the grocery store.
3. Make a salsa of diced mango, minced jalapeno, red onion, lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro to use in fish tacos or with grilled shrimp or chicken.
4. Substitute mashed ripe mango for banana in banana bread. For crunch and flavor, add chopped macadamia nuts.
5. Blend up an Indian mango lassi drink. Place 1 cup plain yogurt, 1 cup chopped mango, 1/2 cup milk and 4 teaspoons sugar in a blender. Process until smooth. Pour into two short glasses. Sprinkle with ground cardamom to garnish.
6. Mix in chunks with curried chicken salad. Prepare a mayonnaise-based chicken salad with about 3 cups of chopped, roasted chicken. Add 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, a squirt of honey, some diced red onion and a handful of cashews. Fold in the mango chunks at the end to preserve their shape.
7. Prepare a sauce to drape over pound cake. To 2 cups of diced mango, add 1/4 cup of coconut or dark rum. Let sit for about 15 minutes for the flavors to meld and the juices to be released.
8. Soften vanilla ice cream and then stir diced mango into it. Refreeze. Or mix it with frozen vanilla yogurt or Greek yogurt. Make a parfait by adding tropical trail mix.
9. Puree fresh mango in a blender or food processor for ice pops or flavored cubes for cocktails. Pour the puree into Popsicle molds or ice trays. Imagine a couple of mango cubes in a summery rum drink.
10. Grill mango halves to serve alongside any grilled meat. Brush halves with butter and place cut-side down on grate for about 4 minutes. Use a firm-ripe mango for this. A very soft mango will fall apart.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8586.
. IF YOU GO
Several upcoming events celebrate the luscious tropical fruit. They all provide tastings but also sell trees and provide information on growing them.
• The state's biggest mango extravaganza is the Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables. The 19th annual festival, which celebrates the mangoes of Hawaii this year, is from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the botanical garden, 10901 Old Cutler Road; (305) 667-1651 or fairchildgarden.org. There are seminars, cooking demonstrations and a pricey Sunday brunch ($125) featuring some of South Florida's most renowned chefs. Tickets otherwise are $25 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and up, and $12 for children 6 to 17. If you want to buy some of the small trees cultivated at the garden, you should plan on getting in line before the gates open. They go fast.
• Jene's Tropicals hosts its 15th Annual Tropical Fruit Tasting from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 16-17 at the nursery, 6831 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Besides mangoes, you can expect to sample lychees, guavas, mamey sapote and sapodilla, among other fruits. Jene's also has many varieties of mango trees for sale, including the popular dwarf trees. The event is free. For information, call (727) 344-1668 or go to
• Pine Island's Tropical Fruit Fair is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 30 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 31. The annual salute to the mango is held at the German-American Social Club, 2101 Pine Island Road in Cape Coral. Tickets are $6, free for children under 10. For information, call (239) 283-0888 or go to floridascreativecoast.com. Pine Island is about 90 miles south of the Tampa Bay area. To get there, drive south on Interstate 75 to Exit 161, County Road 768, follow it to Burnt Store Road through Cape Coral (about 18 miles) and then turn right on Pine Island Road.
Chef Ferrell Alvarez of Café Dufrain takes on chef Christopher Ponte of Cafe Ponte in the Ultimate Mango Taste-Off competition, paying homage to Tampa's diverse roots by creating dishes with mangoes. Free. 5 p.m. Friday, Cafe Ponte, 13505 Icot Blvd., Clearwater. (727) 538-5768 or
. On the Web
Peeling a mango can be a little tricky, but Times food and travel editor Janet K. Keeler shows you how in her video. Watch it at links.tampabay.com.
Curried Quinoa Salad With Mango
1 cup quinoa (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon mango chutney, chopped if chunky
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup chopped peeled mango plus mango spears for garnish
1 medium avocado, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped unpeeled English hothouse cucumber
5 tablespoons chopped green onions, divided
2 cups (packed) baby spinach
Cook quinoa in medium pot of boiling salted water over medium heat until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Drain well; cool. Transfer to medium bowl.
Meanwhile, whisk oil and next 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Add chopped mango, avocado, cucumber, 4 tablespoons green onions and 1/4 cup dressing to quinoa; toss to coat. Put spinach on serving platter. Spoon quinoa salad over spinach. Garnish with mango spears and 1 tablespoon green onions. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from Bon Appétit
Jamaican Jerk Salmon and
2 mangoes, peeled and diced
1/2 pineapple, cored and diced
1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
4 salmon fillets (5 ounces each), skin on
1 teaspoon olive oil
Combine mangoes, pineapple, black beans, onion, cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, allspice, cumin, thyme, cayenne and cinnamon; rub over both sides of each fillet. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook salmon until cooked through, 5 minutes per side. Serve with salsa.
Nutritional information per serving: 468 calories, 21g fat (5g saturated), 37g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 34g protein.
Source: Self magazine
Mango Yogurt Mousse
1 envelope (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
2 cups fresh mango puree (about 2 peeled and pitted mangoes) plus mango slices for garnish
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup well-chilled heavy cream
In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water, let it soften for 1 minute, and heat the mixture over low heat, stirring, until the gelatin is dissolved. In a blender, blend together the mango puree, sugar and vanilla, add gelatin mixture and blend the mixture well. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the yogurt. In a chilled bowl, beat the cream until it holds stiff peaks, fold it into the mango mixture gently but thoroughly, and divide the mousse among 4 dessert glasses. Chill the mousses for at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with the mango slices.
Mango Tart With Coconut Crust
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut (1 3/4 ounces)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups diced ripe mango, divided
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from 1 envelope)
1/3 cup well-chilled heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees to toast coconut for crust. Spread coconut in an even layer in a pie plate and toast in middle of oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. (Leave oven on for baking crust.) Cool coconut to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
To make crust, pulse together flour, cooled coconut, butter, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor until dough forms a ball. Press dough onto bottom and up side of tart pan with floured fingers, then freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Bake in pan on a baking sheet in middle of oven until golden, about 25 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack.
Prepare filling while crust bakes. Puree 2 1/2 cups diced mango with sugar, lime juice and a pinch of salt in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup puree in a heatproof bowl and let stand to soften 1 minute. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Remove bowl from heat and stir in remaining puree.
Beat cream in a large bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold in puree. Set bowl with filling in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and chill, stirring occasionally, until thickened,
1 to 1 1/2 hours.
To assemble tart, spoon filling into crust, smoothing top. Chill, loosely covered, until filling is set, at least 8 hours. Before serving, let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes but no longer than 30, then scatter remaining diced mango over top of tart, leaving a 2-inch border around edge.
Note: If you plan on serving the entire tart at one sitting, follow directions above and mound mango chunks on top. However, the extra juice from the fresh mangoes will seep into the filling and make it watery if it sits too long. Cut a piece and scoop mango on top if you will be serving only part of the tart. The remainder can be covered and refrigerated.