I don’t think I had ever seen a mango tree before we sailed to the Caribbean. When we finally recognized them we were surprised by their size. Some are very big and carry tons of mangoes. Most of the trees grow on private properties, so you can’t just pluck them without permission. Luckily you will also find ones on public spots, like this one by the beach in Bequia.
It is hard to say when the season for mangoes starts, because there are so many different kinds of trees, which ripen in different seasons. I am guessing this one is called the Julie, the most widely spread type of mango tree to be found on roadsides in the Caribbean. The Julie-mangoes ripen from May until July, but already in April we found some small ripe ones on the ground. They are yellow, soft and taste sour-sweet.
Traditionally, mango chutney is made from unripe green mangoes. They are hard and sour and soften up when you cook them. After we pluck them, we let them ripen in the sun for a couple of days, so they already soften a little, which makes them easier to peel and less sour. We also add the ripe ones picked from the ground. They are a bit more work because they are so small, but they taste so good.
There are several ways to make chutney. I like the recipe with sugar and vinegar, because of its sweet and sour taste, but it is also possible to make chutney with only mangoes, spices, oil and water. For the following recipe I don’t use oil, because I put everything in one pot at once (and save some fuel for cooking), but I think it can be nice if you fry the mango with the spices first and add the sugar, water and vinegar later.
What you need:
- 4 – 6 mangoes, peeled and chopped
- half a cup of sugar
- 1/3 cup of white vinegar
- half a cup of water
- pinch of salt
- add whatever you like; chopped onion, chopped fresh ginger, hot sauce, lemon juice, curry powder, cloves, turmeric, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, raisins, apple …
Steps to do:
Let it simmer until most of the mango falls apart and the substance becomes like a jam. I like to have a little bite in it. Stir enough so it does not burn. Add water (or vinegar if you prefer) when it becomes thick too quickly, but not too much at one time. It takes about 20 – 30 minutes before it is ready.
We eat it with rice, baked plantain (the bake-banana), on crackers, pancakes, bread… enjoy!