The luscious, juicy mango is the king of the tropical fruits, synonymous with summer in Australia.
Much of Australia’s mango supply tends to come from the Northern Territory and Queensland – they ripen from about October onwards – and these are the varieties you’ll be eating around Christmas.
Locally, however, crops ripen a little later, starting in late January and continuing their season to around March.
Local farmer Will Everest, who grows mangos at Eungella, near Murwillumbah, says although we have to wait longer for the local crop, the pay off is the flavour: “The sub tropical ones are sweeter,” he said. “It’s a bit like the local bananas. They’re slower growing, slower ripening, so they develop a more intense flavour.”
Will is currently picking the R2E2 variety – a large firm fruit that can grow up to 2kg. With a small seed, sweet mild flavour and lack of stringiness, it’s a great all purpose eating mango, which also freezes well: “All mangos freeze well, but especially R2E2. You just cut off the cheeks and scoop out the flesh…they’ll be as good as the day you bought them,” Will said.
Will’s stall assistant at the New Brighton Market, Sarah, puts her frozen mango to good use by making a mango banana soft serve: “You freeze the mangos, freeze the banana and then blend it with coconut milk,” she said.
Following the R2E2s, the next variety to ripen at Wills’ farm will be the Nam Doc Mai, a long narrow mango that’s picked green and often used in green mango salad.
Later in the season, it will be the Keitt variety – a harder to find mango that has a light green skin.
Unlike many commercial mangos that are sprayed, Will’s mangos are free from chemicals.
“We don’t spray them. We don’t do anything with them. They just grow on the mountain,” he said.
“The cows roam around underneath them and keep the grass down and that’s about it.”
• Find Will Everest at the New Brighton Farmers Market every Tuesday.
TIP: Mangos come in a myriad of shapes, sizes and colours, so skin colour is not always a reliable indicator of ripeness. A better way to test is by smell, and/or giving it a gentle squeeze. If it gives a little, it’s ready. Mangos will also ripen after a few days in the fruit bowl.
WORDS AND PIC BY KATE O’NEILL