The Mango Man delivered my annual order of organic fresh mangoes this weekend! Hurray! They are enormous, sweet, and juicy. Mangoes are quite nutritious, having antioxidant and anticancer properties. Mangoes also have lots of vitamins A and E, which help to protect your heart and balance hormones. Isn’t it nice when something so delicious is also good for you?
I wonder about the Mango Man. I have never met him personally, as he delivers his truckload of ripe mangoes to one of our local organic farmers, and I pick them up at the farm. Is he young or old? Handsome or homely? Funny or serious? Is he a spy or a superhero? The Mango Man is mysterious, kind of like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. His mango delivery is one of the events that I most look forward to during the long, hot month of August in Florida. It is a sure sign that the heat and humidity are slowly, slowly giving way to the cooler, drier days of fall, one of the best gardening and eating seasons here in the deep south.
To celebrate the arrival of the mangoes, we will make fresh mango salsa and mango avocado salad with balsamic vinaigrette. But we will use most of the mangoes to make wonderful jams that we can enjoy in the middle of the winter, when tropical fruit is scarce. Mango Jalapeno Jam is a favorite of family and friends. It’s neither too sweet nor too hot, and its flavor is indescribably delicious and mysterious in itself. Mango Jalapeno Jam is a wonderful addition to a cheese plate or as aglaze for roast chicken or pork. It’s darn good straight out of the jar on a spoon if you ask me. Try some! We also made up a batch of Mango Raspberry Jam, and I think this will be a favorite, too. The combination of mangoes and raspberries is phenomenal, and the jam is a lovely deep red color. When all the jamming is done, there is a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the gleaming, jewel-colored jars all lined up on the shelf.
If you are new to canning, I recommend that you get a copy of the classic, Ball Blue Book of Preserving, or a similar book that will offer a good overview of the canning process, as well as lots of good recipes like the ones here. Preserving sounds a little intimidating, but as long as the instructions for sterilizing and processing are followed carefully, it is really a simple and very pleasurable activity for a weekend afternoon when it is too hot to be out in the garden. And the flavor and texture of homemade jams and preserves cannot be matched by anything you buy commercially. Enjoy both the process and the compliments from the delicious results.
Mango Jalapeno Jam
4 whole ripe mangos (about 3 cups of crushed mango)
6 whole jalapeños, seeded and stemmed
1-½ cups apple cider vinegar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
6-½ cups sugar
1-½ package powdered pectin
½ teaspoon butter (optional, it helps reduce foaming)
Crush the mango with a potato masher–I just set the peeled and sliced fruit in a baking pan and mash away. Food process the jalapeños until fine. Add the cider vinegar and process again until smooth. In a large pot combine all ingredients except the pectin and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the pectin and bring it to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat immediately. Skim foam and let cool. Carefully ladle into sterilized ½ pint jars. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Yields about 8 half pints.
Mango Raspberry Jam
3 cups finely chopped, peeled and pitted mangoes
2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
1 1/2 cups fresh crushed or one bag frozen red raspberries
1 pkg powdered pectin
5 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon butter (optional)
Combine mangoes, raspberries, lemon juice and pectin in a large sauce pan. Bring slowly to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add sugar all at once, and stir until dissolved. Return to boil. Boil hard 1 minute stirring constantly, remove from heat and skim foam (you may use the 1/2 teaspoon of butter to keep the foam the down). Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe rim, add 2 piece lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Yield about 7 pints.