catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Mango Madness

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In northern parts, locals refer to the ‘mango madness’. It starts up late September, building in intensity until Christmas. Fights break out. Airconditioners break down. The mental health unit gets dangerously full. A procession of people caught short after parties go through the Mags Court. People who live on hills that catch breezes escape the worst of it, although there are other saving graces.

Many of us have big backyards with fruit bearing trees and shrubs. I’ve got lemons, oranges, monsteria and two different kinds of mango. It’s the latter that take pride of place in any North Queensland yard, to the point that ‘fruit trees’ or ‘mangoes’ are selling points flagged on photographs in estate agents’ window displays.

This afternoon, I took the dog for a run through the quiet, hilly streets around our house. The mangoes are laden with fruit; some are developing the pink flush that goes with the sweetest, least stringy types – Bowen or Kensington Pride. If you’re lucky (and can cook), then two trees – one bearing table mangoes, the other bearing green or ‘turpentine’ mangoes – can be a bonus. You eat the sweet, pink-skinned ones, and turn the others into chutney. Cold homemade mango chutney with naan or soda bread, eaten outside during the short tropical twilight, is among the best cures for mango madness.

It was nearly dark by the time I got home. I left in bright sunlight, returned to see clouds sweeping in over Mt Archer. I brought the dog upstairs and noticed both my own trees had started fruiting. One is a Bowen, the other is green – I didn’t know this when we moved in. This weekend, I’ll be making the family mango chutney; the recipe is over the fold.

My family mango chutney recipe


1.35kg green mangoes, peeled, halved and pitted
75g salt
2 litres water
450g brown sugar
600m vinegar (white or brown, depending on your preference for dark or light chutney)
75g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons hot chilli powder
1 50mm cinnamon stick
125g raisins
125g dates, chopped


Cut the mangoes into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl, sprinkle salt over the top and pour in the water. Cover with a tea-towel and set aside in a cool place for 24 hours.

Drain the mango pieces and set to one side. Place the sugar and vinegar in a preserving pan and bring to the boil. When the sugar is dissolved, add the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture back to the boil, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture begins to thicken very slightly, reduce the heat and simmer, now stirring frequently until it is thick. Discard the cinnamon stick before storage.

Smooth, mellow chutney is achieved by slow cooking and then slow cooling. It is best stored before consumption, preferably in wood, at the bottom of the fridge.

Written by Admin

December 6, 2006 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. Finally, a North Qld post, complete with recipe.


    December 6, 2006 at 8:57 pm

  2. mmmm, man go crazy


    December 6, 2006 at 10:36 pm

  3. My mother came from Qld, via New Guinea where she was nursing until the Japanese turned up.She was on the last plane out of Lae (many of her colleagues had to walk out) and she went all the way south to Tasmania where she bush nursed to avoid the dreaded Manpower Authority (nursing was a protected profession).

    The point is that she could never be reconciled to the price of mangoes in Tasmania. “To think that we used to pick them up off the ground and throw them at each other”.

    Rafe Champion

    December 6, 2006 at 10:42 pm

  4. Lots of people sit under the trees and just eat them until they’re full, although you’ve got to be careful doing that – the juice attracts green ants, and those buggers sting.


    December 6, 2006 at 11:32 pm

  5. We have a good sized mango tree, but it hasn’t had any fruit for the past two years after heaps of bountiful harvests. Not sure if it’s our non-green thumbs or what.

    It’s a pity because after a while when we got sick of eating the raw fruit (how spoilt we were), we discovered that they worked brilliantly in pancakes and frittered. So much better than bananas! Frittered mangoes are the best, used to have them as a snack practically every day… those were the times! Yummy yummy times…


    December 7, 2006 at 6:14 pm

  6. Mangoes can be temperamental, Kitty. Our trees did nothing last year (according to the previous owners), while this year I’ll have enough to make two batches of chutney.


    December 7, 2006 at 6:18 pm

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