May is for mangoes in Belize. The country has over 20 varietals of mango trees. Twenty types of mangoes! They grow wild along the roadsides and have been expertly grafted and planted in yards- mangoes are everywhere, and they’re fruiting like mad at the moment.
At our guesthouse here in Placencia, Driftwood Gardens, we have 3 mature mango trees and they’re all competing to outdo one another in their bounty this season.
The big and bold Tommy Atkins mangoes have been giving us trouble for a few weeks. This tree unfortunately hangs over the pool deck and you wouldn’t want to be lounging in a chaise when it drops a softball-sized fruit on you. We’ve been harvesting these mangoes early to mitigate the chances that a large one falls on someone. The Tommy Atkins is nice while green, sliced with some salt and lime, it’s tart and crunchy. When ripe or just turned it is firm and only slightly sweet; perfect in a fresh fruit salsa for fish tacos.
The middle tree we have is a local favorite- the Number 11. All the neighborhood kids know about this tree and even some taxi drivers occasionally make a detour to pilfer from this tree. Number 11’s are small but prized for their super sweet flavor when ripe. It’s easy to tell when they’re ripe as they turn a distinct yellow color.
My new favorite is the Blue mango, our tree closest to the road and most visible to passerby’s. They’re more deep purple in appearance than blue and they turn a red tint when ripened on the vine. These are top-notch! They don’t have an abundance of flesh but it hardly matters when the tree grows them by the hundreds. The mango meat is sweet but not overpowering and smooth- not fibrous. I’m loading my freezer with Blues for future smoothies and sorbet.
I coveted my neighbor’s mango-picking-pole for a few seasons and finally got myself one at Wallen’s hardware store. I fit it to a handle I can take on and off my telescoping pool skimmer pole so it’s almost too easy now to pluck fruit. I’m encouraging our guests to give it a try too! (Don’t think of it as yard work, think of it as an on-site agritourism activity. Ha)
Do you have a favorite mango variety? How do you like them? Green? Ripe? Just turned? Let me know if the comments, or share your favorite recipe using mango.