Mango season seems to be coming to an end here in Puerto Vallarta. My trees are mostly done, I have one just finishing and one more that still bears green mangoes. But just a month or so ago it was Mango Madness in my neighborhood.
I live in the hills above PV, where there is a lot of undeveloped jungle property and mango trees growing everywhere. About two months ago they started coming ripe, and people came from all over bringing their long bamboo poles and climbing ropes just to pick mangoes. I have four types of mangoes on my property alone, plus my friend brought me a bucket of really red plump mangoes that were yet some other type. I was unaware there were so many kinds, and with a little research have found there are hundreds, perhaps as many as a thousand, different types of mangoes throughout the world. Mangoes were originally an Asian fruit and were brought to the new world in the 1600’s by the Spanish. Our tropical climate provides perfect growing conditions for them, and there are several types that now grow here.
As much as I love mangoes, I hate cutting and peeling them. It is such a chore!! But there are ways to make it easier for yourself. Mangoes have a large, flattish seed in the center that must be cut around. When you look straight down on a mango it is kind of an oval. Cut your mango into three pieces of equal thickness along the length of that oval. You may have to do a bit of a curved cut around the seed. The outside curved pieces can be easily peeled by holding one firmly in your hand, and then inserting the edge of a stiff plastic cup between the skin and the flesh of the mango. Then just push the cup through and it peels the skin right off. Get as much as you can off the center slice, as it will be mostly seed. Once cored and peeled mangoes can easily be cut to the appropriate size for whatever you are using them for.
Half of my harvested mangoes I cut into pieces and freeze. Some of the pieces I leave large, but most I cut into ½ inch cubes and put a serving size amount, about one cup, into plastic baggies for freezing. These can later be used in baking, to make smoothies, or to put into homemade ice cream. I also make baggies of mixed frozen fruits for smoothies. When using mangoes in baking, I find that a lot of their flavor bakes out, so use a recipe that requires a lot of fruit. Carrot cake, banana bread, and zucchini bread recipes are perfect for this. I use large, thick slices to make mango upside-down cake. Just replace the fruit from your favorite recipes with at least as much mango.
The other half I cook down to make mango sauce. I fill a large, thick-bottomed pan about half way with pieces of peeled mangoes and cover with water. Cook that long and slow over a low flame for a duration of several hours until it thickens to your desired consistency. Mangoes are sweet on their own, but you can add sugar or piconcillo to make it even sweeter. It will probably be a little stringy, and you can strain it if you like. The delicious and tangy sauce can be used like syrup on French toast, pancakes, or over ice cream. I really like it as a dip sauce for coconut shrimp, as you may have tried at your favorite beachfront restaurant.
Next year I plan to expand my endeavors to make jam or chutney, and I would really like to try to make wine or maybe even a brandy. We went through a couple of weeks up here of the entire neighborhood smelling like fruity wine, and it reminded me of sweet plum wine that I have enjoyed in the past. It was a shame to smell it all going to waste lying on the ground, so next season I will be more prepared.