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Cooking with Fruit: Mangoes

by on March 28, 2011
 

Mangoes.

IMG_4533Addiction. My fruit crack.

Back at home in Nigeria, mango season for me was heaven. I’d buy small basket loads every week and have at least half a dozen every day till the rains came and drove the mangoes away. I liked the just-ripe ones and woul eat myself into a mano stupor everyday!

Years on, dried mangoes have replaced what once was fresh. Thanks to my older sister who has a way of passing on her addictions for things like Haribo gold bears and dried fruit. Every time I go to the UK, I make sure I bring back packets of Forest Feast’s dried mangoes, sourced from the Philippines, undoubtedly the world’s best producer of dried mangoes. I also have a Filipino friend who brings me kilos every year when she visits the Netherlands and so I have had two ‘categories’ of dried mangoes – one characterized by a clear mango flavor and just the right amount of sweetness (Forest Feast) and the other, more sugar than I like with hints of mango flavor (direct from source). What both have in common is the slight tartness and chewiness of dried fruit which I love.

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So last week when the boerman (weekly fruit supplier) gifted me with 4 large mangoes, I decided to get my groove on and attempt a homemade version. A trip to google and a recipe in hand, I began with minimal fuss.

An initial contemplation of fruit leathers quickly abated, as I didn’t want an excessive amount of sugar in the mix, plus the ‘effort’ required. This was after all a lazy Saturday task.

Dried Mango Recipe, adapted from Pinoy Business

Ingredients
500g firm ripe mangoes (1 large or 2 small)
225 g white caster sugar
500ml water
10 g sodium metabisulfite (preservative) (I didn’t have so didn’t use)
How to

Wash mangoes thoroughly and peel using stainless steel peeler. Then slice diagonally about 5/16 of an inch thick. At this I laughed…….I don’t keep a ruler in my kitchen. I just cut them about 3-4mm thick…with the eye!

Prepare syrup by mixing sugar, water and sodium metabisulfite. I didn’t have the so-called sodium ‘salt’, so didn’t use.

Heat the syrup then add the mango slices. Heat until 90oC. I was in the process of doing this but in a bid to set my Ikea cooking thermometer on the pot, it fell in…..and completely ruined itself and so I watched till the mangoes just came to the boil. Soak mangoes in syrup for 6 hours/overnight. The resulting texture is that of canned fruit.

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Drain the mangoes from the syrup and spread on trays and dry at 45-55oC for at least 18 hours. I dried mine for nine hours and they were great. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to leave them in the oven after you’ve turned it off, for hours on end………..or your perfectly manicured nails might see damage. But I lie as I haven’t had my nails primed in years….so no accidents occurred. It is however tricky to pull them off cause as they dry, they don’t want to part company with the baking tray. Be warned.

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Sweat in cheesecloth overnight. I did try to sweat them in cheesecloth, but didn’t really see the purpose. Pack in polyethylene bags and seal.

 

The Result

The dried mangoes were nice with a distinct mango flavor, only lightly sweetened but a touch chewy. Somewhere in between the The Forest fruit version and the Filipino one. And if you think this has given me the confidence/inspiration to make it by the bulk…..it hasn’t. I will return to my old ways, buying and begging for either packaged version.

What I am glad about is discovering how that ‘canned fruit’ texture is attained, think peaches and apricots and mangoes – that firm, slight chewiness in the fruit.

Mango lassi, adapted from food52

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Ingredients
1 cup thick Greek or Turkish yogurt, chilled
1/2 cup cubed fresh mango
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac (see photo) or 1/8 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon zest of fresh lemon
1 1/2 agave nectar (or honey to taste)
2 ice cubes, crushed up
To garnish: Pinch of black salt, kosher or fine sea salt, sumac and mint leaves
How to

Combine all the non-garnish ingredients in a blender and process. Chill, if desired.

IMG_4597Garnish with sumac, salt and a mint leaf

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I liked the lassi very much. The original was made with heirloom tomatoes but I decided to wait till the hot summer to try that combination. The sumac and lemon gave it a sweet zesty flavour that was refreshing and the mango flavour wasn’t overpowering.

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The best thing though was the salt finish…..it enhanced the fruity flavours of the ‘smoothies’. When I was tired of drinking the litre I made, I spiced up my bircher muesli by adding some. A worthy finish to breakfast.

What are you favourite mango recipes? Share them please and have a great week.


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