Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mango-picking in South Florida isn't Like You Think

See those fruits? In case you grew up in a blighted Yankee hellhole (spits) and don't know what those are, those are mangoes.

They are one of the most incredible and delicious fruits on the planet. If you live in an aforementioned Yankee state and have bought them in a grocery store, you don't know what they taste like. They're terrible from the grocery. Sweet-sour with a turpentine undertone.

Those are not the mangoes we have in Florida. The mangoes in Florida, or more specifically SOUTH Florida, are rich, sweet, tropical, bursting with flavor and absolutely addicting.

A Master Gardener in North Florida once told me that they loved the oak woods in North Florida and really thought South Florida was sad because they didn't have towering oaks.

I responded, "Oaks? In South Florida, the MANGO TREES are the size of oaks!"


Those are 50-60' mango trees. They are absolutely incredible.

These particular trees are growing at my in-laws' house. Long ago, a man planted a small orchard of mango trees in his yard... then sold the house to my mother-and-father-in-law, and the trees just kept on growing... and growing... and growing.

Picking the fruit takes some serious work. Here's my father-in-law taking a few down:

That's a massive telescoping pole used to change fuses on transformers. It's a serious fiberglass tool with a hook on the end. A mango hook!

The trick is to catch the falling fruits... or eat them quickly if they smash into the ground.

I admit: I did badly at catching the fruits the day I took these pictures. The tropical sun was high in the sky and as they fell they bounced all around the branches unpredictably. I was also a little concerned about getting brained.

But, in the end, we gathered a couple of lovely buckets of mangoes, God's gift to Floridians.

Though mangoes can't take the winters where I live, I do get to visit the trees down south now and again. I'll take that... especially when I get to eat their fruit.

Thanks, Dad!

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At July 14, 2015 at 7:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had NO IDEA mango trees got that big. I'm having enough trouble just cutting my elderberries with a tree lopper on a pole! --Ivy Mae

At July 14, 2015 at 9:03 AM , Anonymous Rachel said...

I spent some time on Maui, the town of Lahaina in particular has massive mango trees all over the place, hanging over the road all through town, towering over houses, all loaded with the most beautiful purpley-orangey-greeney fruit hanging like christmas lights. At the right time of year, the entire town smells of sweet, sweet mangoes. Delicious. You're right, nothing like what you can buy at the store. Bananas too, Maui has the most delicious bananas. Apple banana are the best, they make the typical variety that you can buy at the mainland stores taste so bland. I went on a banana strike when I moved back because they were just so terrible :( I miss the fruit of Maui. Lilikoi especially (passionfruit). It's part of the reason we came to Florida from Washington, I can find a lot of the same fruits that they have somewhere in Florida, and land was reasonably priced here (Maui... not so much).

At July 14, 2015 at 10:32 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

The bananas in the tropics are certainly amazing... you're right about the flavor. Glad you were able to get a piece of Florida. We're not quite as blessed as Hawaii, climate-wise, but we're definitely cheaper.

At July 14, 2015 at 11:31 AM , Blogger Jean Campbell said...

I had no idea either that the trees were so tall and huge. We have a mango picker like your Dad's, we just aren't winter warm enough to grow mangoes. I had not thought to try it for picking pears.

We were at an outlet store in Texas once and a friend from Florida bought a gross of mango forks for cheap to give away to her mango customers.


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