Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Surfeit of Mangoes.

Today I am off to Far North Queensland for a brief holiday, and my food-mind leaps to .... mangoes! It is early in the season, it is true, but a few have already made their appearance here in Brisbane’s fruit shops, so surely they will be bigger, and better, and sweeter, and cheaper, in the North?

I have written on the mango previously – several times in fact (the links are below), and it might be said that I have done enough on the topic, but I do have a little more for you today. I believe it is true that “The number of mangoes that a practiced person may eat with impunity is astonishing” (Sketches of India, 1850), but occasionally, even with the best appetite in the world, a glut of the fruit will get the better of one. Here is a plaintive cry from the Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld on January 8th, 1929.

There is an orchard round our house,
An orchard green and fair,
And half-a-score of mango trees
Grow strong and sturdy there.
Each one is hung with luscious fruit,
And I just sit and sigh
As like the loaves and little fish,
I watch them multiply.
The missus is the soul of thrift,
Also a cook of taste,
And so to use the harvest up,
She straight away makes haste. .

We've mango cooked and mango raw,
Mango rich and mango poor,
Mango cutlets, mango steak,
Oh!  how my – er - head does ache.
Mango pie, and mango mash,
Mango pudding, mango hash.
Mango wine, and mango beer.
But not like Mac's, it doesn't cheer.
Mango boiled, and mango rough,
Mango trifle, mango puff.
Mango chutney, mango cream,
Mango jelly, mango dream.
Mango stew, and mango kiss,
Mango that, and mango this.
Mango curry, mango jam
Mangoes, mangoes - damn.

Most of the mango recipes I have given you so far have been from the savoury end of the spectrum. Here are a couple of sweet treats to make with your sweet mango surplus.

Mango Jam.
Select mangoes that are ripe, but nice and firm. Remove skin and cut fruit into small dice. To four heaped-up cups of cut-up fruit allow two cups water and juice of one big lemon. Boil gently for half-hour, add four cups sugar, and boil quickly for 20 minutes to half-hour. Take a little  out in a saucer to test if firm enough. Twenty minutes is long enough if jam is kept boiling. Remove from fire while boiling. Allow to cool a little, and bottle.
Mrs. H. P. Finch, Palm woods, North Coast Line.
The Queenslander, February 14, 1929

From The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld), February 3rd, 1938:

MANGOES are so plentiful that they are being given away in some districts/while in others they may be bought at almost nominal prices. Combined with pineapple they make a delicious jam, and with the usual spices they produce a hot and very appetising sauce. The weekly prize for the best House hold Secret goes this week to Mrs. S. Clarkson, Hemmant, for recipes for these two preserves, which will make a good addition to the store cupboard.

Pineapple And Mango Jam
Prepare enough ripe mangoes to make six heaped cupfuls, add two cups of sliced or chopped pineapple, 8 cups of sugar. The fruit is juicy enough without any wafer added. Butter preserving pan well, including the sides, cook the fruit, and sugar for an hour, stirring constantly, and bottle when clear.

Mango Sauce.
Peel some ripe mangoes, squeeze and press the pulp through a colander until the juice measures up to six large cups. Put two cups of brown sugar and 11 cups of vinegar on to boil for 20 minutes in a large saucepan. Skim, then add the fruit juice and bring to the boil. Next add half to three quarters of a pound of dates, mashed fine with a little of the hot liquid, also a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and allspice, a little white pepper, and a few small chillies. Stir frequently, and let boil for about two hours, then bottle and seal.

And finally, from the Northern Territory Times and Gazette (Darwin, NT) October 15, 1921:

Mango Jelly.
Peel the mango as it begins to turn yellow, before it softens; slice the pulp from the seed; pour enough water in the pan to cover the fruit, and boil until quite tender; strain through muslin cloth; to this juice add an equal quantity of sugar and boil till it jellies. Lime juice may be added if more acidity is desired in the jelly than is present in the mango

Quotation for the Day.
Each tree
  Laden with fairest fruit, that hung to th' eye
    Tempting, stirr'd in me sudden appetite
      To pluck and eat.
John Milton, Paradise Lost

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