“Oh my, the mango trees are full of mangoes this year,” said Bel after she came back from her walkabout with the caretaker. “ There were none last year, but this year there are so many I don’t know what we will do with them all. We should make jams and chutneys.” By this, I believe Bel meant I should make jams and chutneys with the 500 or so kilos of fruit. “We don’t have canning jars and I have no idea where to find them here,” I said. When we are on holiday the last thing I can think of is spending hours if not days over the stove reducing and canning mangoes. It is a nice idea but not at the top of my list. Perhaps if we put an aircon in the kitchen my motivation would shift, I thought to myself (but not that much).
I went for a walk, bringing the DSLR, to inspect the biggest mango tree. The batteries were charged after yesterday’s fiasco which caused the loss of high resolution photos of Godzilla. I was taking photos of the branches laden with heavy mangoes hanging all about like great big olives ripe for the picking. I tried zooming in but at the longest distance the lens was just not clear. I cursed Nikon under my breath once again.
I put the Nikon on the grass near my feet and pull my phone (or is it a camera) out of my back pocket and zoom in on my subject. All of a sudden a half-eaten mango lands about one foot away from the camera. The impact of the fruit on the ground sends bits of wet, ripe, sticky mango all over my legs like a corpusculent hand grenade hitting the pavement after a long freefall. At the same moment there is an incredibly loud thrashing sound above and in a flash I see a large monkey jumping from the mango tree to the palm tree just 15 feet away; A large black mesomorph flying above me and sending ripe coconuts cascading to the ground below as it crash lands into the fronds. I tried to shoot the sequence with the camera phone but it is just too slow and the result is disheartening. The Nikon was set to shoot high speed frames and I had it set to auto because the lighting was not ideal. If the focus was working as it should I would have had a very nice sequence of this beautiful creature fleeing the scene of its felonious binge.
Needless to say we had plenty of fresh mangoes every day for breakfast.
Easy Mango Sorbet Recipe
Take pieces of fresh mango and freeze them. When solid run them through a fruit juicer. The result will be a wonderful, naturally sweet, creamy mango sorbet. Top with freshly pressed coconut cream if you have it otherwise store bought.
La Cannelle Mango Jam
1.7kg of mangoes (should result in about 1kg net weight)
800g of cane sugar
Juice of 1 small lemon and 2 limes plus the zest of the 2 limes
Peel the mangoes and slice off the flesh from the stone to the best of your ability. Do this over a large bowl. Squeeze the pit over the bowl to get the remaining juice from the mango fibers. Gently mix this mixture with the sugar and half the citrus juice and let macerate for 12 hours or overnight.
The 12 hours later or the next day place the mango mixture into your large saucepan (the wider the better to allow for faster water evaporation) and bring to a boil slowly. Skim off the foam that will form and then add the remainder of the citrus juice. Continue cooking the mixture over a lively flame for about 10 minutes and stir with a wooden spoon regularly until it becomes apparently thicker. You can use a sugar thermometer, in which you can remove the mixture from the fire when it hits 105° C. At this point quickly add the lime zest and mix to incorporate evenly without clumps.
At this point you will either store your jam in jars and put in the fridge or you will can your jam in sterile jars which you will vacuum seal in boiling water, which will ensure you will be able to store your jam for at least 1 year without refrigeration. There are many books and online tutorials on canning and preservation. Hygiene and good technique are everything in this case – not difficult at all but not to be ignored.
If you do not have a sugar thermometer then one method to test the final consistency of your jam is to keep a small plate or saucer in your fridge. Just spoon a little of the hot mixture on the cold plate and spread it out. It will cool very quickly and give you a clear indication of its thickness when cool.
The reason we like to add the lime zest at the very end is because it helps the zest remain bright green. If you add the zest early in the process, which I have done before, you will lose the bright green of the lime zest and will end up with a dull brownish green. The end result is visually more appealing and leaves a brighter zest flavor.
As a quick note, making jam (a preserve) is very similar to charcuterie. It is about loss of water. Some people may think jams involve too much sugar. However, there is a key issue. Sugar, like salt is a form of preservative. The lowest realistic amount of sugar you can think of using is about 60%. Less than that and your sweet potted fruit will ferment. The higher levels of sugar are an inhospitable environment for yeast. Additionally, sugar plays an important role in gelification – along with pectin (some fruits already have plenty (i.e., apple, citrus, etc.) while others have little). Of course there are modern alternatives such as freezer jams, etc.
We also make mango and cinnamon jam – of course! Instead of using lime zest at the end (or together with if you are feeling adventurous) add freshly ground (very fine) cinnamon and mix well. Do not use too much as you want balance. You want to end up with mango cinnamon jam not cinnamon mango jam.