I have yellow nails. No, I haven’t been painting nor have I taken up smoking, it’s mango season once again. We’re very fortunate to have friends that know how much we enjoy mangoes. When they have a few to spare we will have a bag delivered to us, or we are invited to go and take as many from the tree as we can carry.
This year the season is a little later, and the fruit is not as plentiful as last year. Mangoes are ready to harvest roughly three or four months after they flower. Once the mango trees came into bloom this year and started fruiting the winds from El Niño knocked many of the babies from the trees. Now that the winds have died down, the fruit is ripening all at once.
It’s difficult to tell if a mango is ripe just by looking at it, the perfect mango can stay green with just a hint of yellow or a blush rose. The best way to harvest the fruit is to use a fruit picker, a basket on the end of a long pole, but most people will wait until the fruit falls to the ground, especially the fruit that is high up. By the time some of the mangoes fall the birds will have a peck or two out of them and if the tree near Howler Monkeys there will often be a bite or two taken out of them. The ripe mangoes that survive all the critters will have a lovely fruity, tropical floral fragrance near the stem.
Mango skin is edible but I prefer to peel ours before eating or freezing them. Often, we’ll see people walking around with whole mangoes eating them like apples the sweet, sticky juice running down their arms. Some of the fruit will have a sticky sap, so I always wash them, although often the giver has already done it for me. I then use a knife to peel a thin line around the mango and after that, it’s simple to slip my fingers under the skin and pull it off and cut the flesh away from the stone. I usually save some fruit to eat fresh, but we freeze most of it for smoothies and eating later.
I love mango season and I don’t mind the yellow nails that come with it. I’m also grateful that I have friends who remember every year to share the spare fruit from their bountiful trees…in the campo.