It’s that time of year again in Cayman. As tomato season passes, we welcome with open arms the flavourful, juicy mango season. At least, I do.
I grew up in the Cayman Islands and have fond memories of sucking many a mango seed dry in my youth.
There are many different types of mangoes available on Grand Cayman: stringy, common mangoes; Julie mangoes; Carrie mangoes; East Indian mangoes; and Nam Doc mangoes — just to name a few. Mango trees can produce up to 300 fruits per year, but those with trees usually give some away or have uninvited guests “teef” a few.
My dad has an enormous mango tree outside the front of the house, and each year, when the tree begins to bear fruit, we use our mango picker to pluck the mangoes from the branches. Usually my dad’s friend Charlie from Nicaragua will join us, as he is the only one out of the three of us fit enough and crazy enough to actually climb the 90-foot tree. Once he’s at the top, he shakes the branches, urging the mangoes to de-stem and hit the ground. This puts the mangoes at risk of popping, so while Charlie climbs, we try to catch the mangoes as they fall.
Once we collect our stash, we use them to make all kinds of delicious treats. My favourite thing to do with mangoes is cut them up, freeze them and later turn them into homemade mango ice cream, or add them to my smoothies. My dad prefers eating them right off the tree and sometimes my mom will use them to make spicy mango jelly, which is delicious on toast.
The best part of eating a juicy mango on a hot day in Cayman is enjoying them with the people you love.
Local mangoes will be available at the supermarkets the next couple of months, and at the local farmers’ markets. If you can, try to go mango picking at least once during the season to get a real feel for Cayman life.
Just make sure you get permission from the tree owner first!