Mangoes are considered one of the world’s most decadent fruits, and South Africa is fortunate to have an abundant supply of this subtropical fruit from the peak of summer in December to the start of autumn in April.
With skins ranging from sunny yellow and fresh, crisp green to fiery red and a delectable, juicy orange fresh that bursts with sweet flavour, it’s hardly surprising that the exotic mango is known as the king of fruits.
An apt name given that mangoes are one of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world, their history spanning back some 6000 years. The fruit is believed to have originated in north eastern India – where it’s regarded as a sacred fruit – and north western Myanmar and Bangladesh. Buddhist monks were recorded as taking mango plants on voyages to eastern Asia as early as the 4th century, from where it spread across Asia. Persian traders were largely responsible for taking the fruit to the Middle East and Africa.
Mangoes have been cultivated in South Africa for the past 100 years, with in excess of 75 000 tons being harvested annually today. Interestingly, of this amount, South Africans consume 20 000 tons of fresh fruit; 20 000 tons of juice; 15 000 tons of atchar and 10 000 tons of dried fruit!
It’s clear we just can’t get enough of our luscious local mangoes! So make sure you stock up and get your share this season.
The great thing about summer is that if you’re looking for light, healthy foods to prepare for you and your family, South Africa’s bounty of seasonal fruit provides an endless source of inspiration.
Mangoes are rich in vitamin C; just half a mango provides 47% of the Nutrient Reference Values (NRV) for vitamin C. They’re also a source of folic acid and beta carotene. Vitamin C and beta carotene are antioxidants that together help protect our cells against free radical damage.
With the excesses of the festive season clocking up the calories during summer, it’s good to know that mangoes won’t add to your waistline woes. Half a mango provides just 450 kilojoules and is virtually fat free.
Sweet, juicy mangoes are available from December until April, making this succulent exotic fruit the perfect ingredient for summertime family meals. Why not try grilled mango cheeks with cinnamon French toast for breakfast; add a mango and chicken Waldorf salad to your lunch table; or enjoy a coffee break with a slice of upside down caramelised mango cake.
Upside down caramelised mango cake
175g castor sugar
2 mangoes, chopped (out of season, substitute with canned mango, drained)
150g cake flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
175g butter, softened
175g castor sugar
4 tablespoons ground almonds
4 eggs, beaten
5ml vanilla essence
1 mango and passion fruit
Grease and flour a Bundt cake tin and line the base with baking powder. Alternatively a greased silicone cake mould works very well.
To make the caramel, place the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan, do not stir, allow to caramelise over medium heat very gently until deep golden brown. Pour immediately into the prepared tin.
Arrange the diced mango over the caramel. The fruit must almost cover the base of the tin.
Sift the flour and baking powder and place in a food processor.
Add the butter, sugar, almonds, eggs and vanilla. Process briefly until smooth and evenly blended, 1-2 minutes.
Spread the cake mixture over the fruit.
Bake at 160ºC until the top is golden and the sides of the cake have pulled away from the tin, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool for a few minutes, before unmoulding.
Serving suggestion – dust with icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature with crème fraiche